Thursday, January 25, 2007

Three Ninety Eight Thursdays

Call them folktales or fairy 398s are one of my favorite Dewey classifications. From the crafty Anansi/Ananse to the various "Cinderella" stories found in many, many cultures, this section contains some of the most imaginative and colorful stories you could ever hope to read. Every Thursday, I'll tell you about one of the many fabulous single title folktales or collection of folktales we have in our library.

Since we're coming up on Black History Month, I decided to tell you about Ananse and the Lizard: A West African Tale. Pat Cummings is the (re)teller and illustrator of this Ghanian folktale, one of the many tales featuring the mischievious Ananse (other tellers spell it as Anansi) the Spider (sometimes, Anansi is a human). The Chief has announced that the lucky guesser of his secluded daughter's name will become her betrothed. The chief's daughter has been so secluded, in fact, that her name has never been revealed. Ananse, no doubt dreaming of the life of luxury he would inherit as the chief's son-in-law, vows to win the daughter's hand. The fact that an incorrect guess would land an unfortunate soul a date with some buzzards scares most of the villagers away. By a stroke of luck, however, Ananse overhears the name of the chief's daughter. Ananse's obnoxious boasting leads the even craftier Lizard to stage his comeuppance.

While Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock will always be my favorite Anansi tale (I performed in a puppet show of the tale two years ago), this is an excellent retelling of this particular Ananse/Anansi folktale. I'm currently adapting the story to tell to my Write Away club, and it's quite a fun story to tell. There's lots of opportunity to ham up voices and narration, so it would make a great read aloud to an elementary aged audience.

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