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Don't Leave an Elephant to Go and Chase a Bird Hardcover – January 1, 1996

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 and up
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (January 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689804644
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689804649
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 11.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,469,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on August 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Don't Leave an Elephant to Go and Chase a Bird is a wonderfully crafted kind-hearted tale. The author quickly moves you through the adventures of Anancy the spiderman. Anancy goes from one person to the next exchanging items. His trip and the transition and exchange from one person to the next is so rhythmical, that I can almost hear drums and music as Anancy travels along. I enjoyed this book from cover to cover with such a light story and illustrations, which are influenced by traditional African art themes. Although crafted for a child, this story, a Ghanaian folk tale has a rich heritage.
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