cover image The Lion's Whiskers: An Ethiopian Folktale

The Lion's Whiskers: An Ethiopian Folktale

Nancy Raines Day. Scholastic, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-590-45803-0

Fanaye, beyond child-bearing age when she marries the widower Tesfa, is overjoyed at making a family with her husband and his son, Ababe, ``the child I have always wanted.'' But Ababe wants no part of her: he pushes away the food she prepares, ruins the clothes she mends and refuses to sit close for her stories. When a medicine man tells Fanaye to gather three whiskers from a fierce lion for a magic potion that will gain her Ababe's love, she collects them by carefully and gradually winning the beast's trust-by letting him come to her. The potion is no longer needed, for the same strategy works with Ababe. This Ethiopian folktale is full of rich imagery and wisdom: equally compelling are the drama of Fanaye's approach to the lion and the larger message, that distance is sometimes a necessary preface to intimacy. Grifalconi's (The Village of Round and Square Houses) collages ably evoke the timeless quality of a parable-the frequent facelessness of her cut-out figures suggests a certain universality, especially in silhouette. From the vast beige expanse of the desert to the almost palpably blazing sun to the cool indigos of the sky as night falls, she strikingly renders the landscapes of Fanaye's country. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)