Lester ( To Be a Slave ), himself of African and Jewish ancestry, here recounts 12 folktales from African and Jewish traditions, which he has freely adapted to fit his ``mouth and tongue.'' The combination of the two cultures works well; each story in this eclectic collection begs to be read aloud: ``Long before time wound its watch and started ticking and chasing after tomorrow, which it can never catch up to, well, that was the time when Dog and Cat were friends.'' Lester's retellings are beguiling and graceful, his language attuned to each story's nuances. Shannon's striking paintings, in rich browns and greens, are as full of depth as the stories themselves. Particularly interesting are ``The Wonderful Healing Leaves,'' a stirring tale of bravery handsomely rewarded, and ``What Is the Most Important Part of the Body?,'' an African/Jewish tale in which a Queen and King learn what all storytellers must know: that they must use ``their tongues for good. May we do the same.'' Ages 7-11. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989 Release date: 10/01/1989 Genre: Nonfiction
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