cover image API and the Boy Stranger

API and the Boy Stranger

Patricia Roddy. Dial Books, $14.89 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1222-5

This legend from the Ivory Coast takes the form of a cautionary tale, used to teach children to share their food. Young Api listens to the comforting rhythms of village women as they prepare a feast: ``Tue, ta. Tue, ta,'' her mother pounds the foutou. ``Ngub. Ngub,'' bubbles the sauce. ``Pssssss. Pssssss , '' chicken sizzles on the grill. The reverie is broken by the arrival of a stranger, `` a very thin boy carrying a bowl.'' He is shunned by everyone except Api's mother, who gives him the largest foutou. He appears twice again, the final time warning people to leave the village before daybreak. Once again, only Api's family pays attention to the boy, feeding him and heeding his advice. As they travel, their village is engulfed by a fiery volcano, and the sounds of destruction cleverly repeat the cooking noises described earlier. Api's family establishes a new village, which ``to this day is always willing to share its food with strangers.'' Newcomer Roddy's use of onomatopoeia enlivens the story, which is further enriched by a glossary and an author's note. Russell's ( One Smiling Grandma ) full-bleed pastels depict the beautiful, contradictory landscape, featuring both arid, sandy terrain and lush, verdant land. Festively patterned West African garments add splashes of color. Ages 4-8. (May)