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Stories from Other Countries

Clever Anansi and the Boastful Bullfrog
by ‘H’ Patten, illustrated by John Clementson
(Frances Lincoln)
A pourquoi tale from the Caribbean telling how Bredda Croaky was transformed from a special bullfrog whose skin ‘glowed with all the rich colours of hibiscus flowers’ into an unremarkable, nocturnal Croaking Lizard all because of Anansi’s jealousy. When Anansi tricks the cats into attacking the bullfrog, poor Bredda Croaky is pulled like a cracker between them till his plump round shape and colourful skin are completely lost.
The vibrant collage pictures with their striking patterns evoke the African origins of Anansi as much as the Caribbean setting of this particular story. They are bound to inspire young audiences to try and create their own pictures.
There is a wealth of potential for exploration of this colourful story with upper KS1 children as well as the ideas offered in the teachers’ notes for KS2. Teachers, don’t miss the opportunity to share this lively book
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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Rama and the Demon King
by Jessica Souhami
(Frances Lincoln)
The festival of Diwali celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over dark and knowledge over ignorance. Frequently told around the time of Diwali (or Dusshera/Navaratri which preceeds it) is a portion of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana: Brave Prince Rama, with the help of Hanuman and his loyal monkey army, wins the battle against the wicked ten-headed demon king, Ravana, to rescue his beloved Sita from her imprisonment on Lanka and returns to claim the throne of his kingdom, Ayodhya.
Based on traditional shadow puppets, Jessica Souhami has created a wonderful picture book version of this adventure with vibrant artwork. Magic arrows become poisonous snakes and demons move at the speed of light in the battle before Ravana finally lies dead – pierced by a magic arrow from Rama’s bow.
Children are entranced and inspired by this book and the big book version is superb to share with larger groups.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
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The Leopard’s Drum
by Jessica Souhami
(Frances Lincoln)
An amusing pourquoi Asante tale from West Africa telling how tortoise got his protective shell. So proud is Osebo the leopard, of his splendid drum that he’ll let no one else play it, not even Nyame, the Sky-God. So, Nyame offers a reward to any animal able to bring him the drum. Python, elephant and monkey make unsuccessful attempts and finally it’s small, puny tortoise who proves too clever for the boastful leopard, and wins a hard shell for himself and all tortoises thereafter.
Jessica Souhami’s vibrant art work is based on her original shadow puppet production of this highly enjoyable tale which has a patterned text and lots of potential for creativity.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
32 pages, ISBN 0711221472
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The Fire Children
Retold by Eric Maddern, illustrated by Frane Lessac
( Frances Lincoln)
A superb retelling – both visual and verbal – of a creation myth from West Africa wherein the world’s children are made in many different colours. Aso Yaa and Kwaku Ananse, spirit people who accidentally become earth’s first human inhabitants mould clay into little figures, bake them and breathe life into them. Depending on the length of baking time, the ‘Fire Children’ range from ‘bone white’ to ‘midnight black’ and the spirit people love each and every one of them.
Lessac’s naïve style is the perfect medium for illustrating this tale which has much to offer in the KS1 curriculum.
(reviewed by Jill Bennett)
32 pages, ISBN 071122188X
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Hope on a Rope
Retold by Geraldine McCaughrean
Illustrated by Joanna Troughton
(Longman Pelican Big Books)
This long story retells an African creation myth. Interesting in its own right and also useful to compare with other creation stories.
48 pages   ISBN 0582333806
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Why Flies Buzz
by Brenda Parkes and Kim Roberts Smith
(Literacy Links - Kingscourt)
A traditional story from Africa. Quite long but well told with a repetitive pattern.
Early KS2   
24 pages   ISBN 0732708915

The Animals' Wishes
by Davie Thomason. Illustrated by Bee Willey
(Rigby Red Giant)
A traditional native American tale of how the rabbit and the owl came to look like they do today. Well told with a touch of humour. Interesting to compare with a Just So Story.
KS1  ISBN 433042230

Yeh Shen and the Magic Fish
Retold by Brenda Parkes Illustrated by Mon-Sien and Jean Tseng
(Rigby Red Giant)
A play set in ancient China tells how Yeh Shen has to work hard for her cruel stepmother and stepsister. Her only friend is a fish who eventually gives her the clothes she needs for the Spring Festival where she meets and eventually marries the King. Interesting to compare with Cinderella.
cast - 7 main characters, a narrator and some villagers
KS1 and early KS2
24 pages    ISBN 0433031417


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