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The Village of Round and Square Houses Hardcover – May 30, 1986


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 6 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 1
  • Lexile Measure: 850L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint. edition (May 30, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316328623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316328623
  • ASIN: 0316328626
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 9.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #804,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tos is an actual village, on the side of an inactive volcano in Central Africa. It is the village in the book's title, where women dwell in round thatch-roofed huts and men live in square ones. This book tells the story of how the houses were so designated, in the aftermath of the volcano releasing its full fury on the village. Grifalconi effortlessly embroiders the customs of the village into her melodious narration. The author, who has illustrated over 50 children's books, including Lucille Clifton's Everett Anderson books, here illustrates her own tale, told to her by a young girl who grew up in Tos. The resting purple volcano, suddenly erupting into orange; the eerie orange sun; the villagers covered with ash; the purple and orange skies; the dense, lush junglesall are captured beautifully by Grifalconi's art.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4 The telling of this beautifully coordinated African folk tale is shared by a little girl and her grandmother who live in the village of Tos in West Central Africa. This village in Cameroons is located at the foot of Naka Mountain, which is believed by the grandmother to be partially responsible for the "natural order of things" which specifies that the men of the village reside in the square houses and the women in the round houses. The first half of the book describes the events of a typical day among the members of the young girl's family: work in the fields; the supper preparation; eating the meal; the post-mealtime relaxation. When Gran'ma Tika finishes smoking her pipe, she becomes the storyteller for the second half of the book as she tells her granddaughter about the time Naka Mountain erupted. The villagers were miraculously spared, but the village was destroyed except for two housesone square and one round. The village chief, unable to distinguish his ash-covered subjects, assigned the "tall gray things" (men) to live in the square house, and the "round gray things" (women) to live in the round house. Sensitive chalk drawings emit expressions of dignity, strength, love and warmth among the characters. Appropriate and complementary earth tones predominate. The skills which Grifalconi exhibited in her City Rhythms (Bobbs-Merrill, 1965; o.p.) are perfected in this exquisitely beautiful and appealing book. Helen E. Williams, University of Maryland, College Park
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Village of Round and Square Houses, is a story told byalittle girl, Osa, about how the people in her Central African villageof Tos ended up having the men live in square houses and the women in round ones. Osa's story begins with vivid descriptions and pictures of day to day life including their eating rituals in which the men come to eat with the women and children in the round house. Grifalconi uses bright, beautiful colors and illustrations, which help set the happy and peaceful mood. As Osa's grandmother tells her the story of how the great Naka Mountain burst open sending lava, ashes and smoke everywhere, Grifalconi does a good job of depicting the eruption. She contrasts the color orange on black and later shows the village and people all covered with ashes, with only two houses left standing. Since Naka had spared them and these two houses, the men and women split up and have been living this way ever since. The language and descriptions that she uses to tell the story are unique and informative; she keeps the reader wanting to know more. Grifalconi also does a good job of portraying the culture and tradition in the small village. In a note to the reader at the beginning of the book, she states that this village of Tos really does exist but that it is almost entirely isolated which makes its culture unique with different traditions from other African villages. The story, The Village of the Round and Square Houses, tells of the importance of family and the respect given to the elders. For the eldest in this family has the wooden stool to sit on and the next eldest has the grass mat. The children help the women cook, and everyone eats supper taking turns in order, starting with the eldest right down to the youngest child.Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "princessdiana289" on February 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book to share with children. Children need to know that different cultures do things differently. Culture is a big part of people and how they live their lives. This book was awarded a Caldecott Honor in 1987 for the wonderful pastel pictures. I, myself, loved this book and so did my children in the classroom.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
We enjoyed the story within the story of this book. It tells why some huts are round and some are square to this day in a small African village. This story is of men's & women's strengths & differences, the celebration of family and of the tradition of storytelling. The artwork adds to the quality of this book.
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By Teacher Sarah on January 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book about a real village in Cameroon Africa. As a teacher, I actually use this book to teach surface area and volume. After reading the book, we determine the surface area and volume of the two houses and then compare them. It provides a great real-life application of a "boring" Geometry concept.
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By Johnnie M. Smart on July 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this story, I bought it for my 3 year old granddaughter
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