ANANSE AND THE LIZARD

A WEST AFRICAN TALE

Ananse is the tricked rather than the trickster in this addition to the pantheon of tales featuring the sneaky spider. When Ananse sees a notice announcing a contest to win the Chief’s daughter’s hand in marriage by guessing her name, he suspects she might be “a scrawny little thing,” but is tempted by the offer of half the Chief’s land and the prospect of becoming a chief himself. Off he goes to the village, where he meets up with Grasshopper, Cricket, and their other friends, including one even sneakier than Ananse himself: Lizard. Lizard plays to Ananse’s ego, offering to go to the Chief as Ananse’s messenger. Alert readers will know Lizard is up to no good; his hissing speech and the sneaky look in his half-lidded eyes are dead giveaways, except to self-centered Ananse. Lizard even convinces Ananse to tell him the Chief’s daughter’s name, lest the palace guards not admit him without it. Soon wedding preparations are in full swing; the Chief, unhappy as he is to marry his daughter to a lizard, is fair and awards him her hand, half his land, and the title of Chief. Incensed, Ananse vows to get back at Lizard someday; that is why to this day lizards appear to be nervous, constantly looking this way and that. The busy village, including villagers, Chief, insects, and animals all clad in bright, traditional African garb is portrayed in vibrant watercolor, gouache, and color pencil illustrations. Sleekly round, shiny black Ananse appears the perfect unctuous schemer, and those familiar with the legends surrounding him will enjoy his comeuppance. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-8050-6476-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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MERCY WATSON TO THE RESCUE

Hilarity and hijinks abound in this tale about a voracious swine with an overweening yen for hot buttered toast. Mercy is the beloved pet pig of the doting Mr. and Mrs. Watson. When Mercy sneaks into her owner’s bed one night, her added heft causes the bed to fall partway through the ceiling. Although the besotted Watsons assume Mercy is trotting off to seek help, the only search and rescue Mercy seems to care about involves butter and hot bread. In her quest for some midnight munchies, Mercy awakens the crotchety neighbor. Wild chases and mayhem ensue before help arrives in the guise of firefighters. DiCamillo aims for over-the-top fun with her tale of porcine shenanigans, and Van Dusen’s gouache illustrations provide a comical counterpart to the text. The glossy paintings, with exaggerated caricatures and lively colors, complement DiCamillo’s tone, although the scowling, lantern-jawed visage of the crabby neighbor borders on the unpleasant. With vocabulary that may prove too challenging for a novice, DiCamillo’s tale is best suited for those ready to move up. However, the pacing and the action easily make it right for shared reading. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7636-2270-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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