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The Fire Children: A West African Folk Tale Paperback – April 6, 2006


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books (April 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845075145
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845075149
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 8.7 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,537,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Elegantly told, gorgeously illustrated and conveying a timely but unforced message, this rendering of a West African folktale is one of the more satisfying creation stories to come down the pike. The great sky-god Nyame fills a basket with soil, trees, flowers, insects and birds, then hangs it in the sky--thus forming the earth. Nyame cuts a trapdoor in the sky (the moon) so he can visit earth, and he punches holes (stars) so light can shine through. Then two "spirit people" dwelling inside Nyame climb up to his mouth to look outside; a sudden sneeze carries them to the earth. Once there, the spirit people, eager for children, fashion clay figures: "We could bake the shapes in the fire and then breathe life into them." They bake some much longer than others, so that their children--all cherished equally--range in hue from "cinnamon red" to "honey yellow" and "shell pink" to plain white. Maddern's direct, evocative text and Lessac's vibrant, primitive paintings conjure forth a world of wonder, whimsy and genuine sweetness. Antelopes gambol while leopards sleep peacefully nearby; the spirit people radiate sheer delight in their unspoiled paradise. The brilliant green foliage, purple distant mountains and pure blue sky testify to the infant world's freshness, while the terra-cotta of the earth and hills generates an enveloping warmth. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

A warmhearted Akan pourquoi tale that explains why people come in so many different colors: When the first man and woman become lonely, they make children out of clay. As they are baking the little figures in their fire, they're constantly interrupted by visits from the sky-god--with the result that some of the children are pale and underdone, some are left in so long that they come out very dark, and the rest are every shade between. Lessac's decorative full-bleed gouache paintings are full of vivid plants, animals, and designs adapted from West African masks and pottery, all rendered in her joyous faux-na‹f style. (For slightly older readers, there's a version of this tale in Ann Pilling's Realms of Gold, p. 462.) (Folklore/Picture book. 4-8) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Absolutely fabulous folktale about why we are all different! Some might find the reference to "being cooked in a fire" offensive, but it needs to be understood in the context of a folktale. A must read for my racially diverse preschool class of 4's and 5's every year! A special book. My children ask for it to be read again and again. There is no better recommendation than that!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Wonderful story about the creation of man and why people come in so many different colors. It conveys a message of understanding that we are all one people in a most captivating way. I think this book should be an integral part of the early childhood curriculum
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nancy on April 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't know how I feel telling children they are brown because they stayed longer in the fire pit- seems a little weird. It is a cute concept but teaching race is heavier and should not be sugar coated. Also- the pictures are really unattractive- artistically.
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