cover image The King and the Tortoise

The King and the Tortoise

Tololwa M. Mollel. Clarion Books, $14.95 (30pp) ISBN 978-0-395-64480-5

In the same laid-back style as his Rhinos for Lunch and Elephants for Supper! , storyteller Mollel unfolds this carefully cadenced retelling of a Cameroon folktale in a manner that practically begs to be read aloud. A king puts forth ``a challenge to all the creatures who lived in his kingdom''--whoever can fashion a robe of smoke for him will win their ruler's recognition as ``the cleverest creature in the world.'' One by one several animals dance in the smoke of the fire, twisting and groping for a solution, but all retire in humiliated defeat. A wily tortoise, after securing the king's promise to provide whatever he might need to complete the task, asks for time to consider the problem. Finally the creature beats the king at his own game; the monarch is so amused that he declares the tortoise to be his equal in cleverness. Warm earth tones and intricate vertical borders, taken from traditional Cameroon designs, enliven Blankley's somewhat staid illustrations. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)