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Head, Body, Legs: A Story from Liberia Hardcover – May 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 220L (What's this?)
  • Series: Books for Young Readers
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1st edition (May 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805065709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805065701
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 8.1 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,239,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Long ago, Head was all by himself," begins this African creation story about how the human anatomy came to be. "He had no legs, no arms, no body. He rolled everywhere. All he could eat were things on the ground that he could reach with his tongue." Lippert and Paye previously collaborated on Why Leopard Has Spots: Dan Stories from Liberia, and the two here relate this traditional tale of cooperation from Paye's Dan tribe. Bordered in a distinctive lilac and orange pattern of oblong blocks and zig-zags, Paschkis's (Happy Adoption Day) gouache illustration shows "Head," a bold, ebony, free-floating shape resembling an African mask, against a deep blue background. When he attempts to shake down a cherry tree by rolling headlong into the trunk, Head meets Arms and convinces the appendages to form a partnership: "They... attached themselves to Head above the ears." Later, a lime-green wash provides vivid contrast as Head and Arms meet Body and attach themselves just above the sloping arch of his belly. A series of witty images depicts the group as they team up with Legs and negotiate their proper places. The action plays out against a background so saturated with citrus colors that the spreads resemble African fabrics in their beauty and fluidity. This attractive volume delivers its upbeat message with intelligence and humor. Ages 3-7.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

reschool-Grade 2--This humorous story from Liberia's Dan people suggests that all must work together to succeed in life. A disembodied Head rolls along but can't get the cherries or mangoes he wants to eat until he discovers Arms. Arms attach to Head and they are nearly squashed by Body. As Head assembles various parts, each piece attaches itself in a strange way until finally, with the addition of Legs, Head can recompose to make a full person-and those mangoes are delicious. The story is enhanced by expressionistic paintings whose bright-colored backgrounds make the black-and-yellow figures stand out. Colors and patterns were inspired by flags from the Fante people of coastal Ghana. Perfect for flannelboard and silly enough to enchant young listeners, this is a good tale to add to the storytelling repertoire.
Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Mari on November 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book and so does my son! Winner! Before we read the book, we look at a map to see where the book was written. Then we read the book together. There are so many great topics that come from this story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a whimsical story - Kids enjoy the images and funny situations - and it invites worthwhile conversation about cooperation.
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Format: Paperback
This Liberian story immediatly became one of the top 5 favourites of my sons (ages 3 and 5). Though short, it is a very funny, warm-hearted story about how the main body parts - head, body, legs and arms - met and decided to join together as one body.

The story is of course a metaphor for the benefits of working together, and unity.

The only drawback is that it is short - I would rather have bought a book with three stories like this. This is often the case with children's books - you get only one short story per book, which makes little sense, other than to maximize profit for the publisher and the authors.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on October 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
"Long ago, head was all by himself." So begins Won-Ldy Paye's and Margaret Lippert's marvelous retelling of this traditional Liberian creation story. Head bounced along the ground eating only what his tongue could reach, but at night he dreamed of cherries, high in a tree. One day he meets Arms, hanging from the tree. "Let's get together. I have eyes to see, and you have hands for picking things to eat." Arms attached themselves to Head. "Hands picked cherries, and Head ate every single one." Soon body came bouncing along, and Head with Arms attached, joined Body at the belly button, and they swam across the river to a mango tree. But Arms could not stretch high enough to pick the delicious-looking mangoes. Standing near the tree were two legs. "Join us," said Head. "I have eyes. I can show you where to go, and you can help us reach those mangoes." Head, Arms, Legs, and Body began to arrange and rearrange themselves until they got it right. "Everyone slid into place. Legs stood on tiptoe. Body straightened out. Arms stretched up, and the hands picked a mango. Head took a bite..." Mr Paye's, and Ms Lippert's simple, playful text is joyous and engaging, perfect for read alouds and story times, and complemented by Julie Paschkis' bold and vibrant illustrations. Together, word and art bring the magical oral tradition of storytelling to life with wit and humor. Perfect for youngsters 3-7, Head, Body, Legs is a winner.
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