We know before beginning—from Bryan's past collections, his illustrations, the prefacing Ashanti proverb, and the characteristic "we do not mean. . ." opener—that these are set in Africa and either real or pseudo folk tales; but nowhere does Bryan say so. . . let alone identify the specific culture and sources. As it turns out Aku is a "Spider-Story child" (a term used but not explained) and a friend of Spider Ananse (never placed)—a friend, that is, until Aku comes into a magic ring and the jealous Ananse contrives to steal it. Aku gets the ring back with the help of his cat Okra, but his dog Okraman disgraces himself on the mission—and that is why, Bryan tells us, Cat is now pampered and mannerly and Dog sleeps outside and eats leavings. Bryan is a fluent story teller but not an especially strong one; his decorative prints are fluent too, but facile. An option.