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Mommi Watta: Spirit of the River Paperback – June, 1996
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From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4?In this retelling of a Kpelle tale, Sowa dreams of going to school, but instead she must stay home and care for her younger siblings. Having been warned about the stream spirit who tempts, she nonetheless finds herself making a deal with Mommi Watta to get her wish, which will result in the death of Sowa's twin brother. Sowa plans to trick the spirit, only to learn that she faces another hard choice. She reverses her decision, choosing family love over school. Having rejected temptation, she feels her spirit growing strong. The theme of limiting dreams in favor of duty is one that African and European folklore share. But Americans may not understand that concept and, even more, may be uncomfortable with the idea that the spirit world could threaten a child's well-meaning choice with such dire consequences. The story is clearly told. Subtly, readers will learn about the food Kpelle eat; that school is not free for Liberian children; and that routinely girls accept unequal responsibilities, including significant care for younger children. Realistic watercolor illustrations portray a bright, happy rain forest and village, but the women's faces, especially the mother's, are unappealing. In making Mommi Watta look like the river?transparent, with flowing white hair?she becomes more like a white image of beauty than an African one. Finally, the story's theme may limit its appeal.?Loretta Kreider Andrews, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Mommi Watta: Spirit Of The River is a beautifully illustrated Liberian folktale with a universal theme. Mommi Watta (Mommy Water) is a spirit of the river and featured in traditional stories told among the Kpelle tribes of Liberia. Mommi Watta waits for a girl like Sowa who wants something very badly, to give in to temptation. The spirit grants her a wish in return for something of Mommi Watta's choosing. This version of Mommi Watta is an adaptation of a tale still being handed down from generation to generation. Mommi Watta: Spirit Of The River is splendid reading and would prove a popular addition to any multicultural or folklore collections for young readers. -- Midwest Book Review --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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