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Search tags: Verna-Aardema
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review 2019-12-11 20:23
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears - Verna Aardema, Leo Dillon (Illustrator), Diane Dillon (Illustrator)

A fun cumulative tale. I love everything the Dillons illustrate. 

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review 2015-04-12 00:59
What's So Funny, Ketu? by Verna Aardema
What's So Funny, Ketu? - Marc Brown,Verna Aardema

Genre:  Family / Africa / Humor / Folktale

Year Published: 1982

Year Read:  1993

Publisher: The Dial Press



Now, everyone knows about Marc Brown’s famous “Arthur” series and how it managed to remain well-loved by children for many years, right? Well, did you know that Marc Brown had illustrated an underrated children's book called “What’s So Funny, Ketu?” which was also written by Verna Aardema and was based off an old Nuer folktale? I must admit that it took me awhile to get back around to this story since it was so unknown to the general children’s book community and I could not remember the title of this story at the time, but I will say that this story is definitely worth reading!


The story starts off with Ketu saving a snake from his dog and the snake wanted to reward Ketu for his kindness by giving him the gift to hear animals’ thoughts. Of course, there is a price to this gift: if Ketu tells anyone what the animals are really thinking about, he will DIE! So, Ketu promised not to reveal the animals’ thoughts to anyone, not even to his wife Nyaloti. Unfortunately, this starts causing problems for Ketu as every time he hears the animals’ thoughts, he would start laughing uncontrollably to the point where he would startled anyone near him. This then leads to his wife Nyaloti going to the Chief and telling the Chief that her husband is supposedly laughing at her since Ketu refuses to tell her what he is really laughing about. The Chief then tells Ketu that if he does not tell everyone what he is really laughing about, then his wife Nyaloti and their baby daughter will have to go back and live with her father.


Will Ketu tell everyone his secret or will he risk dying in the process?


Read this book to find out!


Now, I have been a huge fan of Marc Brown’s works for many years now, mainly with his work on the “Arthur” series. However, I was quite surprised that Marc Brown had done some gorgeous artwork for this unknown children’s book “What’s So Funny, Ketu?” Marc Brown’s artwork is just gorgeous in this book as the characters look realistic and the African setting of this story is extremely vibrant to look at. I also loved the fact that most of the colorings in the artwork are mainly done in red, brown, yellow, black and white colors as they really made the artwork truly stand out. It is amazing how realistic and gorgeous Marc Brown’s artwork looks in this book compared to the artwork in the later “Arthur” books and I just cannot help but stare for many hours at these wonderful illustrations! Verna Aardema’s storytelling was truly wonderful in this book as I thought that this book was barrels of fun and I loved the way that Verna Aardema used various phrases such as “tu-e, tu-e, tu-e” and “pah, pah, pah” to describe the sound effects that each character makes such as laughing or patting a baby on the back.


Parents should know that there are some mentions of death in this book, mainly concerning that if Ketu tells anyone his secret, he will die. Parents might want to discuss about the subject of death with their children before reading them this book.


Overall, “What’s So Funny, Ketu?” is a truly brilliant book for anyone who loves African folktales and underrated classics! I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since the subject of death might be a bit upsetting for some children.


Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog


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review 2015-04-08 05:57
Rabbit Makes a Monkey of Lion by Verna Aardema
Rabbit Makes a Monkey of Lion - Verna Aardema,Jerry Pinkney

Genre:  Africa / Animals / Folktale / Trickery

Year Published: 1989

Year Read:  2015

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers



I have read many African folktales and I had enjoyed a good majority of them! So, imagine my surprise when I picked up a new children’s book called “Rabbit Makes a Monkey of Lion,” which is a Swahili tale retold by Verna Aardema along with illustrations by Jerry Pinkney and it is definitely one story that every child should read!


The story starts out with the honey guide telling Rabbit about how it found some tasty honey in a calabash tree and Rabbit decides to invite her friends Bush-rat and Turtle to dine on the honey. Unfortunately, the calabash tree belongs to Lion and he is not happy about having a couple of pests eating honey out of his tree! So, in order to escape from being eaten by Lion and getting the honey at the same time, Rabbit and her friends end up tricking Lion into various situations that allow them to get the honey, making a monkey out of Lion!


Will Lion finally get Rabbit?


Read this book to find out!


I have read many books written by Verna Aardema and I always enjoyed the way that Verna Aardema is able to retell many ancient folktales and make them so mesmerizing to read! Well, this book was no different and I really loved the way that Verna Aardema was able to combine both humor and drama into this story as you laugh whenever Rabbit tricks Lion and get scared when you think that Lion will eat Rabbit. I loved the fact that this story is reminiscent of Uncle Remus’ “Brer Rabbit” tales as both stories involves the main protagonist being a rabbit and tricking their enemies to get out of dangerous situations. Jerry Pinkney’s artwork is as usual gorgeous to look at as the characters look truly realistic and I always loved seeing the scenes where Lion is chasing Rabbit right after she tricks him in order to escape as they look truly vibrant.


Overall, “Rabbit Makes a Monkey of Lion” is another fantastic African folktale from the great mind of Verna Aardema and anyone who loves reading about African folktales should definitely check this book out! I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since there is nothing inappropriate in this book.


Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog



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review 2014-11-04 22:11
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale - Verna Aardema

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears a West African Tale
This audio book starts out with an iguana and a mosquito talking about the yams the farmer was digging.
Snake then approaches the iguana, then goes into the rabbit hole. Love the animals and their sounds as the parade of animals continues.
Lion calls a meeting and he gets down to the problems....
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).

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review 2014-08-27 13:06
My Wife Waited 20 Years to Share This Book With Our Kids
Who's in Rabbit's House?: A Masai Tale - Verna Aardema,Leo Dillon,Diane Dillon

My wife bought herself this book back in college, having fallen in love with the illustrations and the story, and then she waited twenty years until she had a kid who could appreciate the book as much as she did. Well, that's finally happened: our about-to-be-4-year-old son, Henry, has picked this as his bedtime story four nights running.


Who's in Rabbit's House is a story within a story, or rather, a play within a story. Masai actors wear whimsical, colorful animal masks and act out the story of what happens when Rabbit comes home to find a monster in her house. "I am the Long One! I eat trees and trample on elephants!" says the monster. Pretty fierce, right? Rabbit enlists Leopard, Elephant, and Rhino to help get rid of The Long One, but it is the little green Frog that saves the day, with the obvious moral that intelligence is often more important than size or brute strength (and also, when the  monster's identity is revealed, the folly of making assumptions based on too little information).

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