Fresh Fish: A Tale from Tanzania

John Kilaka, Author
John Kilaka, Author . Groundwood $16.95 (28p) ISBN 978-0-88899-656-5
Reviewed on: 05/23/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
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A cast of anthropomorphic animals emphasizes timeless morals and present a portrait of modern Tanzanian village life in this warmhearted picture book, which promotes forgiveness. Native Tanzanian Kilaka's teeming illustrations resemble those of Richard Scarry with aspects of Japanese printmaking, though in a traditional African setting. In this fable, Sokwe Chimpanzee makes a living as a fisherman. One day, after a successful fishing trip, Sokwe's friend, Dog, duplicitously offers to assist him in carrying his bounty: "Sokwe knew perfectly well what was going on. 'Thanks anyway,' he said, 'But just take this fat one and keep it. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.' " The next day, Sokwe, Dog and a handful of other animals head to market, and the crafty canine once again tries to score some fish, invoking the scorn of the other animals. At market, Dog manages to steal the basket of fish and abandons his friends. The animals finally locate Dog, put him on trial and mete out a just punishment. Dog and Sokwe then reconcile, and the tale ends well for all. The story frequently comes across as disjointed (especially concerning the passage of time) and serves more as a showcase for Kilaka's charming illustrations. The same can be said for the characters, dressed in stunning traditional Tanzanian garb, but which never develop any distinct personalities. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)

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