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Told by Evan Jones
Concord (Ont.), Irwin Publishing, 1991. 48pp, paper, $6.95, ISBN 0-7725-1844-0. CIP

Grades 4 to 8/Ages 9 to 13

Reviewed by Joan Hewer

Volume 20 Number 4
1992 September

This collection of Anansi tales would be a valuable addition to any elementary school's folk-tale collection. It begins with an introductory explanation and poem about the folk character, then gets on with several amusing tales of the "spider-man's" adventures or misadventures, ending with one called "Mrs. Anansi Fights Back."

This last story should perhaps be pre-read before sharing it with students, as its values might be misread. It deals with the problem of husband/wife support of the family. Here, the Mrs. is fed up with Anansi's laziness and goes out to get a job. While she is gone Anansi sends the kids out to beg. After a while, a very successful Mrs. comes back and moves the family into a new large home. Anansi still does not work, repeating that "rimes are tough." Sitting around the pool, talking with his friends, he says that women should no longer be "exploited," but should be set free. The tale ends with Anansi's words: "All you fellows should do it. You should let your wives go out to work." Hmmm....

Taken in the context of Caribbean culture and in the mood in which they are offered, the stories can be amusing and enjoyable. The illustrations, done by several different artists, are colourful and expressive. The text/picture balance on the pages is reminiscent of the old basal readers, but it works. Inside the front cover is a map of the Caribbean area; inside the back cover is a glossary of Caribbean words and phrases used in the stories. All in all, a well-thought-out presentation.

The paperback format could present a problem in that the book might get lost amongst the many larger hardcover books found in most school folk-tale sections. But, for studies of Caribbean literature or world folk-tales, the book would prove valuable. It might be useful to include with it the rest of the series ("Tales of the Caribbean"): Stories from History, The Beginning of Things, Witches and Duppies (all Irwin, 1991).


Joan Hewer is a teacher-librarian at J.D. Hogarth Public School in Fergus, Ontario.

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1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


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