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African Animal Tales


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This is the story of how Tricky Tortoise proves that brains are often better than strength or size.

About the Author

Author: Bruce Hobson is the author of seven other books in this series. He lives on a farm in South Africa. Illustrator: Adrienne Kennaway moved from Kenya to London when she was 15 to study at the Ealing School of Art. Later she attended L'Academia de Belle Arte in Rome. It was on her return to Kenya that she began illustrating the picture books that have made her well known.


PreS-Gr 2 Kennaway uses color and shape boldly to complement well this original folktale. The storyline itself is a familiar one in the folk tradition: the little guy out-foxes (or in this case, ``out-tortoises'') the big guy. Elephant is big, so big that at times his bulky gray body covers a two-page spread. And he needs to be big to amplify his role as bully and boaster. Tortoise, on the other hand, is tricky, and his cleanly-drawn image sports an ever-present sly grin. All of the animals are simply drawn with shapes that evoke the African landscape. The use of a chant ``Weyo weeyo wee. . .yo. . .HUP we go!'' lends an authentic ring to the language, as does the unadorned writing style. The story is fun, and children will no doubtfind it satisfying. Lee Bock, Brown County Public Libraries, Green Bay, Wis.

In a splendid jungle setting, a lowly tortoise proveswith the help of a friendthat might does not always make right. A pompous elephant believes that he is the most important animal in the jungle because of his size and power. But because his magnificence has gone to his head, he is blatant in his disregard for the smaller animals, particularly the tortoise, whom he has stepped on 332 times. Tired of constantly patching his cracked shell, the tortoise challenges the elephant by making him think that he can jump over the mammoth creature's ``silly, little head.'' This story has all the elements of a timeless fable: the animals are highly individualized characters and Hadithi makes excellent use of their differences. The meticulously orchestrated timing of the text is maintained in the pictures. By skillfully manipulating light and dark, Kennaway creates beautiful contrasts; the intensity of color is exceedingly rich and the use of bold shapes and textures is accomplished. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)

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