cover image The Singing Man: Adapted from a West African Folktale

The Singing Man: Adapted from a West African Folktale

Angela Shelf Medearis. Holiday House, $17.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1103-0

Medearis (Dancing with the Indians) comes to full maturity as a storyteller with this engaging folktale from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. When a family's three sons reach manhood, each selects a profession. Swanga chooses farming, Taki chooses blacksmithing, but when Banzar announces that he wants to be a musician, the elders banish him from the village for his impracticality. He soon befriends the praise singer Sholo who, in his music, preserves centuries of African history. Traveling and performing with Sholo, Banzar learns the ancient songs; after Sholo dies, Banzar becomes the king's musician. He is reunited with his famine-struck family, sharing his riches with them and the true worth of his trade: ``Yams fill the belly and trade fills the pockets, but music fills the heart.'' Shaffer's (illustrator of Medearis's Come This Far to Freedom) textile-inspired, color-drenched oil paintings offer further testament to the value of the arts as they honor the multifarious beauty of Nigerian culture. Ages 3-8. (Sept.)