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Apr 27, 2023

Read these three picture books by Americans. These books should be available in public libraries. I chose them because they all won the Caldecott award.
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe (1987)
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale by Verna Aardema (1975)
A Story, a Story: An African Tale by Gail Haley (1999)
Read-aloud versions available on youtube, but you may miss the picturebook experience if you rely ONLY on youtube.
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears
A Story, a Story [at least part of it]
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters
Go to the Internet Sacred Text Archive at Read the introduction, then go to South-African Folk-tales by James A. Honey and read these tales:
“Lion Who Thought Himself Wiser than his Mother”
“The Dance for Water or Rabbit’s Triumph” and
4. One last part: the Cinderella story from Egypt at


Start with the collections from the Internet Sacred Text Archive (#s 3 and 4 above) and answer these questions:
1. These stories have been collected by white immigrant people from native tellers (similar to the Joe Hayes or Joel Chandler Harris situation) or collected by native Africans who have been educated in English by white immigrant audiences. Where do you see the English-speaking, European influences? What instructions would you give to these collectors in order to get accurate stories? This question is similar to the one asked about Joe Hayes, the Anglo who collects Mexican fairy tales.

2. Again, about the Sacred Text Archive stories: Are these African stories ready for American audiences in the 21st century? If not, what changes need to be made? You get to be editors in this question, using the best of what you’ve learned so far about editing, to present a fair version of the stories that will also engage a 21st century child audience. What editing principles/assumptions are you using when you suggest these changes?
Now about the picture books:

3. In the picture books, you have American editor-storytellers who are appealing to American audiences when they edit their African stories. What changes have they made to make them more appealing and more marketable?

4. In these picture books the editor/storyteller falls back on the European stories we as American readers already know. What similarities do you see between the picture books and any of the other stories we’ve read?
A Story:
5. In these picture books, you see three different illustrators and styles—how do they influence you as an adult reader? Is your adult reaction different from that of a child who cannot read but can listen to the story and “read’ the picture?

6. What is the difference in the reading experience between the read-aloud versions on youtube and the actual picturebook experience in your hands?

7. Research Please evaluate these websites for inclusion in our textbook: (We are “making” a text book should we include these articles why or why not?
Africa Kids Page (
Africa Access (
8. In the last twenty years, there have been many African folk tales rewritten and illustrated by Americans. Go to a local library or an electronic source and find at least eight picture books of African folk tales that you would recommend for our textbook. Give the bibliographical citation and a short commentary on each book. Your goal is to provide a helpful reading list for you and other students who may want to read more once the course is over. A guide like this will be especially helpful for students who will become teachers.

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Total: GBP120

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