cover image The Hunterman and the Crocodile

The Hunterman and the Crocodile

Baba Wague Diakite. Scholastic Press, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-89828-7

Stunning primitivist paintings make a graceful transition from the ceramic tiles on which they originally appeared to this memorable debut book by an artist and storyteller born and raised in West Africa. Featuring bold, black-and-white animal characters set against earth-toned backgrounds and framed by patterned borders, the paintings give a distinctive spin to this folktale about a contest of wits between a hunter and a crocodile. Donso agrees to return Bamba and family to their river home if the crocodile clan promises not to bite him. Yet once there, the crafty creatures decide they're too hungry to let the hunter go. One by one, animal passers-by refuse to rescue Donso, explaining how Man has exploited their species, taking much from them and giving back nothing. A clever compromise brings the narrative to a satisfying close. With its many animal voices, occasional onomatopoeia and clearly delivered message about the importance of respecting nature, this is a natural choice for a read-aloud, likely to entertain as it teaches. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)