Dan Auta: An African Tale

Greystone/Aldana Libros. Nov. 2022. 56p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781771647717.
Gr 2-4–According to the book’s afterword, Dan Auta is a Hausa tale from Nigeria, recorded by a German anthropologist in 1912, translated to Spanish in 1925, and now in English here. Maybe something was lost in translation. Boisterous Dan Auta is raised by his responsible sister, Sarra, after their parents die. Dan burns all their food, urinates on a king, sticks his finger in an eagle’s cloaca, and more. However, his actions eventually lead to good; he kills a monster tormenting the city. The mixed-media illustrations are delightful. Characters are small but packed with personality. The layout incorporates traditional graphic novel elements, with action occurring in different vignettes across the page, some paneled and some not. An afterword praises Dan Auta for having the freedom to explore; however, the writers do not acknowledge Sarra is given no such opportunity, instead being burdened with fixing Dan’s mistakes.
VERDICT Despite misogynistic undertones, this story could broaden a collection of folklore that is primarily Eurocentric.

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