Zamani: African Tales from Long Ago

Tom Nevin, Author
Tom Nevin, Author Jacaranda Designs $12.95 (1p) ISBN 978-9966-884-29-9
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Nevin, a journalist from South Africa, gathers together 10 traditional tales from 10 African nations, each illustrated by a different African artist. To set the scene, he supplies each entry with a ""Keeper's Introduction"" offering a concise yet informative description of the region, culture, people and animals to be featured. The intricacy and humor of African folklore become increasingly apparent as the reader moves through this volume, happily making the acquaintance of such characters as Jabulani, a boy whose magical flute brings the valuable sugar cane crop to Zululand; and Sakkim, a plucky North African mouse whose dream of becoming king is realized-in a fashion. In his crisp yet personable storytelling, Nevin incorporates much detail without overburdening the narrative. Less helpfully, he concludes each tale with a message from the ""Storykeeper"" to state the alleged moral of the story, but the tone veers between the simplistic and the cryptic. The quality of the illustrations-full-page pictures and decorative borders-is decidedly uneven; however, they contain an intriguing array of African symbols and images. A design concern: the text-jammed pages and the small type, printed in brown ink on beige stock, can be tough on the eyes. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)
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