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African Folk Tales

Region: West AfricaNigeria

Author: High Vernon-Jackson, Susan L. Rattiner

Illustrator: Yuko Green

Characters: Musa, Fire, Rain, Adamu, Koba, Mullum, Muhammadu

Genre: Folktales

Descriptors: Africa, animals, farmers, hunters, magic

Age: 8+ years old


African Folk Tales, a collection by Dover Children’s Thrift Classics, presents 18 unabridged traditional folk tales from Nigeria, such as “Adamu’s Mountain,” “The Magic Crocodile,” “The Hare and the Crownbird,” and many more. Each of these stories has stemmed from oral traditions and is now presented in this collection for readers all over the world to enjoy. These collected stories about the animals and people who live in West Africa are entertaining and reflect the cultural values and legends of the area. In “The Tortoise and the Leopard,” readers are transported to a forest where a trickster tortoise makes herself a delicious crocodile egg cake. At night, the tortoise and her cake have to hide out from the heavy rain in a cave, home to a leopard who generously allows her to stay for the evening. When the leopard eats her cake while she sleeps, the tortoise figures out a way to get back at him by tying him up and running away, leaving him to his fate. In “The Story of a Farmer and Four Hyenas,” a farmer’s wife gives birth to a healthy baby boy. The farmer, Musa, journeys to town to share the good news and buy meat to make his wife a meat stew. As he begins to head home in the dark, he is surrounded by hyenas and must give them all of the food he bought in order to get away. Musa is upset that he was not able to bring the food back to his wife, but she is just thankful he got home safely. When Musa goes back to town the next day, the community comes together to help him replace everything he lost. These entertaining and profound tales are brought to life by Yuko Green’s charming black-and-white illustrations. Printed in large, easy-to-read type, this book is great for readers 8 years old and up.  

More About This Book

Reviewed: print book by Dover Publications (1999). ISBN: 0486405532, 9780486405537.

Notes: Only a few of these stories have been read for the purpose of this review. The stories in this collection come from West African Folk Tales and More West African Folk Tales, published by The University of London Press, Ltd., in 1958 and 1963. The illustrations by Yuko Green were made specifically for this Dover edition.


Additional sources used: [; West African Folk Tales, Dover Publications (2003)] 

Reviewed by Leah Byrnes

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