Who Is King? Ten Magical Stories from Africa

Beverley Naidoo, illus. by Piet Grobler. Frances Lincoln (Quarto, dist.), $22.99 (72p) ISBN 978-1-84780-514-0
Naidoo, who previously teamed up with Grobler for Aesop’s Fables (2010), retells 10 traditional stories from throughout Africa, which include morality stories, trickster tales, and origin stories about animals. In a story from Kenya, readers learn why Hippo has no hair and prefers being near water (it involves a visit with his former friend Fire), and in a somewhat grim Shona tale from Zimbabwe, a woman whose children died of hunger employs a “Mouse-Child” to help with housework. Grobler’s scraggly watercolor-and-ink images give the animals distinctive, almost human faces (as Naidoo describes them in a note to readers: “They are at times foolish or wise, mischievous or kind, jealous or generous. They make mistakes and sometimes have to be very brave to get out of trouble”), bringing a lively presence to the pages. Ages 5–9. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/16/2015
Release date: 04/01/2015
Genre: Children's
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