cover image Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa

Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa

Gerald McDermott. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-299967-4

This straightforward retelling by the Caldecott Award-winning illustrator of Arrow to the Sun features bold, vibrant shapes and hues. When Zomo (``He is not big. He is not strong. But he is very clever'') beseeches the Sky God for wisdom, he is set three impossible tasks: he must bring back ``the scales of Big Fish in the sea . . . the milk of Wild Cow and the tooth of Leopard.'' The cunning rabbit dupes the three creatures into giving up these prizes, but returns to discover that the joke's on him. His newfound wisdom? To run like mad from the three very angry animals. The tale moves along with the swift concision of a good joke, right down to its satisfying punch line. McDermott's gouache illustrations in brilliant hues of fuchsia, green and orange recall the color and geometric lines of West African textiles. The dazzling artwork shows Big Fish dancing until his scales cascade to the ground, the scrawny Wild Cow ramming a palm tree and getting stuck there, and Leopard tumbling down a hill and knocking out his tooth. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)