From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4-Hamilton's masterful retelling of the tar baby story brings Bruh Rabbit to Bruh Wolf's well-tended garden, where he just helps himself to the corn and peanuts. A "scarey-crow" doesn't frighten Bruh Rabbit at all, so Bruh Wolf puts up a tar baby girl, "standing black in the moonshine." Bruh Rabbit is perplexed. "This seems like a little girl. I best study upon this here." By the time he's done studying upon that silent girl, he's completely stuck. Bruh Wolf is ready to eat him, but Bruh Rabbit pleads, "- I beg you.- You may roast me and toast me; you may cut me up and eat me. But whatever you do, don't throw me in the briar bush!" Readers familiar with or new to the story will relish the rabbit's sneaky escape. Retold in Gullah, Hamilton's narrative is meticulously paced, lyrical, hilarious, and a joy to read aloud. Ransome's lush watercolors suit the story perfectly; there are expansive double-page paintings as well as full-page pictures that face a page of framed, large-print text. An endnote describes the story's origins, as well as some of the possibly obscure terms. This lovely example of a folktale in picture-book format will be a welcome addition to any library.Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
PreS-Gr. 2. As demonstrated in her African American story collections The People Could Fly
(1985) and Her Stories
(1995), the late Hamilton's research into history and folklore has always been rigorous, but she has never allowed it to get in the way of her telling. In this version of the beloved Tar Baby trickster story, she drew on Gullah folklore from the Sea Islands of South Carolina. Her rhythmic, immediate version is well matched by Ransome's paintings, both cozy and exciting, which extend the fun with beautiful farmland scenes at "dayclean" (dawn) and "daylean" (evening) picturing the wily rabbit thief in human clothes repeatedly outwitting the wolf. The hilarious climax of the story is unforgettable as Rabbit first talks to Tar Baby ("'Girl, why won't you speak to me? What you doing out here?'"), then sticks to her, each part of his body in turn. Although things look bleak, Rabbit still wins in the end, and Hamilton's source note, which points to Bruh Rabbit as a favorite character among African American slave storytellers, who always seemed helpless but was traditionally really tricky and clever. A perfect choice for reading aloud. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved