THE SINGING SNAKE

When ``Old Man'' promises to make a musical instrument in honor of the creature with the most beautiful voice, Snake cheats: Jealous of Lark's song but unable to imitate it, he captures the bird in his throat. Though the voice now expresses anguish, the other animals are impressed by its beauty, and Old Man names Snake the winner. As promised, he does make an instrument that looks like Snake—a long, straight horn; but, meanwhile, Lark scratches Snake's throat so that, even after he lets her go, his voice is forever harsh—while the other animals, disgusted with his perfidy, refuse to speak to him. Czernecki illustrates this nicely balanced retelling of an Australian pourquoi tale with glowing illustrations in jewel-like tones, incorporating stylized aboriginal motifs in his striking, decorative designs. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 19, 1993

ISBN: 1-56282-399-X

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

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A beautifully illustrated Afrocentric story that inspires as it informs.

SMILE WITH AFRICAN STYLE

From the Macy's World series

Macy proposes to celebrate African heritage in a very visible way.

A little brown-skinned Black girl with two Afro puffs, Macy greets her teacher, Miss Brown, and compliments her dress. Miss Brown, who is also Black, identifies the fabric as typical of West Africa. When Macy suggests that her classmates each wear an outfit from a different African country, Miss Brown loves the idea. The following week, Miss Brown points to Kenya on an African map as Naomi models a Kenyan Masai dress made with red shuka cloth and colorful beaded necklaces. Macy’s classmates wear Ghanaian Ashanti kente cloth; Angolan, Namibian and Ethiopian garb; a Nigerian ceremonial outfit, the agbada; a Rwandan Tutsi warrior’s clothing; and a Cameroonian elephant mask with matching outfit. Macy arrives late with a special surprise that makes everyone smile. Freeman’s colorful, detailed illustrations represent children with different hairstyles and skin tones, including one with albinism. A richer story would have given the children personal connections with the countries they represent. But even lacking that, this wonderful display of traditional clothing encourages readers to appreciate diversity within Africa and will spark interest in learning about the origins of these beautiful, colorful fabrics and the people who wear them, since clothing expresses culture in so many ways. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A beautifully illustrated Afrocentric story that inspires as it informs. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-913175-18-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cassava Republic Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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THE FISH SKIN

When Grandfather Sun pauses to admire his reflection in a lake, the villagers enjoy his warmth so much that they ask the clouds to leave—but they soon regret their impulse when the lingering sun parches the land. To save his people, a young man dons a magic fish skin, summons the clouds, and hurls lake water into the sky to fall as rain. This Cree legend about preserving balance in nature is retold in simple, fluid prose from an oral transmission. Morrisseau is a young artist of Chippewa extraction; his illustrations are sometimes overliteral (a ``dusty cough'' is depicted as a solid-looking mass ejected from Wolf's throat), with only scattered and sketchy details of Cree art or cultural style, and his juxtapositions of bright tones are far from subtle, but they do add color and feeling to the story. (Folklore/Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 19, 1993

ISBN: 1-56282-401-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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