From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2?Berry retells a folktale that is well known in Ghana and in his native Jamaica. Unlike many of the stories about Anancy Spiderman, it has a moral (which is the book's title), and the protagonist, who usually wins, loses. When he unexpectedly receives a corncob from Skygod, Anancy conducts a series of cunning trades and ends up with a sack of flour. He meets a small herd of elephants and offers it to them. Knowing the spiderman's reputation, they try to outwit him, but he still wins the smallest elephant. However, it runs off when Anancy tries to catch a bird, and it, too, escapes, leaving the trickster with nothing at all. Berry uses Jamaican patterns of rhythm and speech to give the story freshness and energy. The repetition of certain phrases is especially good for reading aloud or telling. Anancy is interestingly pictured as a small, brown, spidery-looking man instead of the more typically realistic spider. Grifalconi's bold patterns and designs done in bright poster colors were inspired by African wood carvings and give the book a strikingly beautiful and distinctively African look. Art and text both offer an interesting contrast to other picture-book retellings such as Eric Kimmel's Anansi and the Talking Melon (Holiday 1994) and Gerald McDermott's classic Anansi the Spider (Holt, 1987).?Virginia Golodetz, St. Michael's College, Winooski, VT
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Ages 3^-6. In his latest story about Anancy Spiderman, Berry retells an old trickster tale from Ghana. This doesn't start off as your usual mischief-mayhem story. Anancy is a kind, gentle creature who helps his peasant community until he is finally outmaneuvered. When Anancy sees a hungry woman, he is moved to give her his corn cob "happily" ; in return, she gives him a gourd of water, which he, in turn, gives to a thirsty family that gives him a yam, and so on. One woman gives him one of her many needy children, and Anancy gives the child to a lonely woman. Only when Anancy meets a herd of elephants at the end does cunning take over: the suspicious elephants work out a plan to trick Anancy so that he goes home empty-handed. Grifalconi draws on West African wood carvings and sculptures for the folk art illustrations and stylized backgrounds; best of all are the sly comic pictures of the conspiring elephants. The author and artist talk about their African and Caribbean sources in an interesting note. Hazel Rochman