cover image Nobiah's Well: A Modern African Folk Tale

Nobiah's Well: A Modern African Folk Tale

Donna Guthrie. Ideals Children's Books, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8249-8622-3

The women of Nobiah's parched village spend much of their time walking to the nearest well, many miles away. When Nobiah is sent there one day, he shares most of his hard-won water with the thirsty animals he encounters on the way home. His mother is enraged, but the animals return that night and persuade Nobiah that, working together, they can dig their own well, and the village prospers thereafter. A thinly veiled and ultimately facile vehicle for the author's well-intentioned social agenda, the story is both obvious and unsatisfying, leaving unanswered such questions as why the villagers have settled in such an inhospitable spot and why, if a well can be as easily dug as events suggest, they have not undertaken to dig one on their own. More imagination has gone into the illustrations--stylized watercolors with especially appealing animal figures (but, on occasion, almost cartoonish humans). Roth uses color to particularly good effect, setting off the scorching pink-oranges and dusty earth tones of the arid landscape against the cool, deep indigos of a starlit night. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)