From Publishers Weekly
Nobel Peace laureate Mandela understandably gets top billing here, but this collection of short fables compiles writings and translations by numerous authors and features illustrations by a diverse collection of artists. Together, the tales and their accompanying artwork create a patchwork of legends drawn from all over the African continent, from Morocco to Kenya to Swaziland. Snakes with seven heads and Zulu tricksters are found here, as well as various creation myths and a Kenyan lion (with the familiar name of Simba) who teaches a cunning hyena a lesson. The colorful birds, giant elephants and mischievous children populating the volume teach sometimes cryptic lessons about obedience, perseverance, cooperation and the simple strangeness of life. In one story, the children of an East African village must destroy a beautiful and enchanting bird that has brought bad luck to the surrounding countryside. In another, a courageous girl frees a prince from the spell that made him a python. In tales such as these, the dream-like, unpredictable symbology and sometimes cruel morality of myths resonate, and, in Mandela's words, the "gritty essence of Africa" shines through in stories with universal themes.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-5-Mandela states in the foreword, "It is my wish that the voice of the storyteller will never die in Africa-.," and he has chosen 32 traditional tales for this handsome oversized volume. While nearly half the selections have their origins in South Africa, the rest represent some of the continent's most cherished tales and come from Botswana, Swaziland, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and other sub-Saharan countries as well as a single selection from Morocco. Each story is introduced with a short provenance or source note, and a frontispiece map matches each tale with its geographical area. Told by a variety of storytellers and folklorists, or gleaned from previously published sources, the tellings vary from literary to contemporary. The book also provides a showcase for 18 illustrators, mostly from South Africa, who contributed one full-page illustration per story. This is a rich collection that would provide depth and breadth to any classroom study alongside the many single-tale picture-book editions readily found on library shelves.Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.