Tales From Africa

Book review by
Kevin McCaffrey, Common Sense Media
Tales From Africa Book Poster Image
These tales educate, entertain, and entrance.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Tortoise chops off the tongue and head of a monstrous beast.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that some of the 12 stories focus on animals and natural elements that come alive, some on people and their relationships with each other or the natural world, and some on the magic and reality of life in Africa.

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What's the story?

Twelve new stories, commissioned from contemporary African storytellers, come from all over the continent and cover the gamut from traditional animal fables to comical cautionary tales. They educate, entertain, and entrance, as good stories are bound to do.


Is it any good?

Storytelling is alive and well on that continent of mystery and magic, Africa; these 12 tales are rich in the diversity of land, people, and style. Mary Medlicott, who has also edited The King With Dirty Feet, has compiled a thought-provoking and well-balanced look at the concerns and hopes of the ancient and emerging lands of the African continent.

As she says in her editor's note, when these stories are told, the listening is loud. One that really speaks out is "The Bittersweet Hunter and the Deer-woman," an offering from Nigeria in which love and kindness triumph over meanness, jealousy, and gossip. The illustrations, by African artist Ademola Akintola, capture the vibrant color and energy of diverse cultures. For the most part, though, they don't capture the abundant dramatic moments of the stories.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the lessons to be learned from these stories. In "Tiyotiyo," for example, how does the boy make the best of a perceived weakness? Families can also discuss how people create myths and legends to explain the world around them.

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