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The Hunterman and the Crocodile
by Baba Wague Diakite
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From Publishers Weekly
Stunning primitivist paintings make a graceful transition from the ceramic tiles on which they originally appeared to this memorable debut book by an artist and storyteller born and raised in West Africa. Featuring bold, black-and-white animal characters set against earth-toned backgrounds and framed by patterned borders, the paintings give a distinctive spin to this folktale about a contest of wits between a hunter and a crocodile. Donso agrees to return Bamba and family to their river home if the crocodile clan promises not to bite him. Yet once there, the crafty creatures decide they're too hungry to let the hunter go. One by one, animal passers-by refuse to rescue Donso, explaining how Man has exploited their species, taking much from them and giving back nothing. A clever compromise brings the narrative to a satisfying close. With its many animal voices, occasional onomatopoeia and clearly delivered message about the importance of respecting nature, this is a natural choice for a read-aloud, likely to entertain as it teaches. Ages 4-7.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4?A delightful West African version of a well-known folktale motif. After traveling across land on a pilgrimage to Mecca, Bamba the Crocodile and his family need the help of a hunter to return to the river. Bamba has promised not to bite, but once they are halfway across the river the crocodile traps the hunter's hand between his jaws. Only through a clever bargain and the wise words of the many creatures who stop to fault the hunter for his treatment of them does he escape and in the process learns the necessity of cooperating and living in harmony with others. Diakite writes with the smooth classic voice of a traditional storyteller. Painted on ceramic tiles, the full-page illustrations consist of stylized black figures on a pastel blue and orange background. The tale flows easily and beautifully through both the crisp text and exciting pictures. The author's note includes sources for other versions of this story. A lively, readable folktale that deserves a place on library shelves.?Beth Tegart, Oneida City Schools, NY
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Ages 5^-8. Malian author-illustrator Diakitemakes a strong debut with this vibrant version of a West African folktale. Tired and hungry after a long journey, Bamba the Crocodile convinces Donso the Hunterman to carry his family to the river. After promising not to eat the man, Bamba has second thoughts. When the hunter appeals to others for help, they side with the crocodile; the cow, the horse, the chicken, and even the mango tree have personal experience with man's ingratitude. It is trickster Rabbit who finally comes to the rescue. Unlike other, more familiar versions of the story, Diakite's simple and successful retelling ends on a note of reconciliation rather than retribution. The artist breathes new life into the centuries-old art form of hand-painted ceramic tiles. The striking paintings, surrounded by borders with ethnic motifs, are dominated by stylized black figures set against orange-yellow backdrops. A splendid addition to folklore shelves. Julie Corsaro
From Kirkus Reviews
Diakit's first book makes bold use of memories of his childhood in West Africa and of the hand-painted ceramic tiles that appear as the illustrations in this book. ``There was a time'' when the crocodile, Bamba, and his family, finding themselves hungry and exhausted en route to Mecca, ask Donso the Hunterman to return them to the river. Fearing for his safety, Donso complies only after Bamba promises no harm, carrying the crocodiles into the water in a neatly tied stack. Bamba goes back on his word, however, and Donso must beg for mercy; he asks other creatures and plants for help, only to find that ``Man'' has treated the earth so badly that no one but clever Rabbit will help him. Not only does Donso regain solid footing on land, but due to Rabbit's tricks, the crocodiles are once again securely stacked on Donso's head, trussed and ready for a feast. At home Donso learns that his wife is gravely ill and in need of crocodile tears, which are joyfully offered by Bamba's family in exchange for freedom. The moral of this folktale--that people should place themselves among rather than above all other living things--is timely, but it is the breaking of promises, the sound effects as the creatures decline to help Donso, the intervention of Rabbit, and the surprise finale that will entertain children most and that makes this dramatic tale worthy of story-hour inclusion. Sources are offered in an author's note. (Picture book/folklore. 4-7) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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