Product Description This treasure trove of lavishly illustrated stories comes from different regions in Africa. In "Anansi," an uproarious story from Ghana, the tables are turned on lazy Anansi. "The Boy Who Wanted the Moon," set in the Congo, explains why there are monkeys in the world. "Shansa Mutongo Shima," a thrilling story of the Tabura people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, reveals the dangers of judging by appearances. In "The Roof of Leaves," from the Congo, a married couple learns a lesson about anger and forgiveness. "The Wedding Basket," set in Nigeria, is a cautionary tale about taboos. In "The Talking Skull," from Cameroon, a foolish man learns too late the wisdom of keeping his mouth shut. Each tale reflects the rhythms and cadences of the storyteller's muse. For her research, Donna Washington consulted as many written and oral sources as she could find. And award-winning artist James Ransome's stunning water-color paintings illuminate the diversity of the African people, clothing, architecture, landscape, and wildlife. Readers will discover that despite the variety, these stories about human foibles hold universal truths for everyone, everywhere. From School Library Journal Grade 1-5âLike a group of lions, these six stories are majestic. "Anansi's Fishing Expedition" (Ghana), "The Roof of Leaves" (the Congo), "The Wedding Basket" (Nigeria), and "The Talking Skull" (Cameroon) are among the tales included. Each one begins with a short note of explanation and is identified as a pourquoi, trickster, or cautionary tale. A map of Africa pinpoints the countries of origin and brief source notes are appended. The morals are not lost, but the writing is not heavy-handed. The smooth retellings are paired with extraordinarily lush watercolors. Most of the paintings are single page but there are several dramatic spreads that capture the eye. Taking a cue from African textiles, Ransome uses distinctive borders that mirror elements from the textâa cloth pattern, a leafy fern, a cheetah's spots. These selections can be read alone but they beg to be shared aloud. The phrasing and cadences invite pauses and should encourage successful retellingâgood for librarians and those who coach children in storytelling contests. A handsome package. âHarriett Fargnoli, Great Neck Library, NY Copyright Â© Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From Booklist Gr. 2-5. In her introduction to this fine collection of African tales, Washington speaks of her project a bit sheepishly. After all, she writes, "Stories are meant to be told," not written down. Nonetheless, children who encounter these supple, charismatic retellings will not come away feeling shortchanged. Her choices represent a range of cultures and genres, including an Anansi trickster tale, a pourquoi tale, and several cautionary tales, but all explore human folly with a light, generous touch. Washington adopts a new voice for each story, sometimes incorporating phrases that presumably reflect the conventions of the featured region ("People, I will tell you of a little thing, a little, little thing"), and she provides meticulous source notes. Ransome contributes lush, naturalistic watercolors, reinforcing the stories' varied origins by altering the landscape and costumes as appropriate and providing maps for geographical context. Storytellers looking for material will welcome this versatile offering, as will educators seeking to deepen children's understanding of Africa's diversity and the richness of its narrative tradition. Jennifer Mattson Copyright Â© American Library Association. All rights reserved About the Author Donna L. Washington is a professional storyteller, multiple-award-winning recording artist, and author. She performs all over the country at festivals, schools, and libraries and gives workshops for parents and educators as well. Her many storytelling recordings have received Gold and Silver Parents'