Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale
By Peter Lewis,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Jazzy, inventive take on West African folktale.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Violence & Scariness
There is a subdued but unexpected death of a baby owl.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this folktale about cause and effect uses lots of sound effects (buzz, hiss).
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
This is a jazzy inventive rendition of the West African folktale explaining the mosquito's buzz. A boast by a mosquito sends events bumping into each other like dominos until the lion must call the animals together to untangle the truth. Aardema uses juicy words to introduce African animals and the sounds they make--"badamin badamin" went the iguana, "wasawusu" went the python. An irresistible read-aloud.
Is It Any Good?
This book is a gem, from the artwork that resembles the glories of stained glass, to the cumulative power of the story's progress, to the highly original words Aardema has invented for the animals. It is also a vibrant tale of consequences and personal responsibility, even if it ends on a note of high comedy. The Dillons' illustrations are sumptuous, boldly outlined and full of feeling. Each character is given a distinct personality: The iguana is a curmudgeon, the monkey is a piece of trouble, the mosquito is a menace.
As a read-aloud, the book has particular merit. Just watch as 5-year-olds try to wrap their lips around sounds like "purup" and "nge nge nge." Read with verve, the story pulses with life. Even the most timid of listeners are happy to join in that last KPAO!
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about consequences. Do you think the mosquito had any idea what would happen when it lied? How could it have fixed the situation before it went too far?
- Author: Verna Aardema
- Illustrators: Diane Dillon, Leo Dillon
- Genre: Folklore
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Penguin Group
- Publication date: January 1, 1975
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 4 - 7
- Number of pages: 28
- Award: Caldecott Medal and Honors
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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