Thursday, March 08, 2007

Three Ninety Eight Thursdays Go to Liberia

Cooperation, sharing, and working together are concepts that are frequently found in children’s picture books. In the hands of a less skillful author, such a story can drip of condescension, didacticism, and plain ol’ boredom.

In their retelling of the Liberian creation story,Head, Body, Legs: A Story From Liberia , Won-Ldy Paye and Margaret H. Lippert tell a unique story of cooperation. “Long ago, head was all by himself.” Since Head was all by his lonesome, the only food he could eat was food that he could reach with his tongue. He sleeps every night under a cherry tree. Now, if you slept every night under a lovely-smelling cherry tree, wouldn’t your mouth just water for cherries? Head tries to reach the cherries, with disastrous results. Luckily, he runs into Arms. Arms can’t see and Head can’t reach, but they devise a plan to work together. Soon enough, Body and Legs join in (literally), but not without a little conflict over who should go where.

Luckily, everything works out, and everyone is able to enjoy each other’s capabilities.

This would be a great read aloud for preschoolers, who would enjoy the silliness of the body parts attaching to each other and figuring out the placement of each part. The illustrations are bright, bold, and appealing to young children.

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