Adding a touch of magic, Mollel (My Rows and Piles of Coins, 1999, etc.) retells a traditional Tanzanian folktale about
the costs and pleasures of taming a wild-child younger brother. Saport's (All the Pretty Little Horses, 1999, etc.) pastels are
so rich with deep blues, russets, golds, and ambers that they belie their name. Her illustrations flow across the spreads,
masterfully supporting the story while adding mood and characterization. After Mother's death, Father takes a job that demands
long hours. He assigns the care of Maulidi to older sister Tatu. Tatu has her hands full, and the only way she can handle Maulidi
at first is with orders backed up by wrestling him to the ground when he disobeys, as he always does. Father is too weary to
take immediate action, so Tatu seeks the aid of MaMzuka, a mysterious spirit woman who lives in the forest and responds only
to song. MaMzuka hears Tatu's song, but her advice to pluck three whiskers from the lion and bring them to her terrifies the
girl. Seemingly spellbound by Tatu's song that night, the lion requires more enchanting, which Tatu provides on the following
night. When Tatu brings the whiskers to MaMzuka, the spirit woman discards them. "To change your brother, just remember
how you got the whiskers," the spirit woman advises, and so fighting gives way successfully to patience, love, and song.
A subtle message, which avoids didacticism through the simplicity of its language and the power of its illustrations.
(author’s note, pronunciation guide, musical score) (Picture book/folktale. 5-9)