Who Is King?: Ten Magical Stories from Africa

, retel. illus. by Piet Grobler. 72p. Frances Lincoln/Janetta Otter-Barry Bks. Apr. 2015. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781847805140.
Gr 3–5—This collection of 10 mostly brief stories, some of which are pourquoi tales, represent nine cultures from eight different African nations. They're retold in spare, sometimes awkward language by renowned African-born author Naidoo, with some Briticisms preserved. Also left intact are the humor, wisdom, and some very dark elements of the original tales, such as the near-beating of a wife and references to beheadings. Lesser evils include husbands berating wives for neglecting their chores and children being eaten by animals. The African origins of the stories are reflected in the colorful, appealing, energetic ink, pen, pencil, and watercolor illustrations. Adding charming folkloric whimsy to the stories, the images depict scenes of village life and the savanna and human and animal characters adorned in vividly colored textiles and jewelry. Bright decorative endpapers complete the attractive appearance of this title. An author's foreword and source notes are included.
VERDICT A pleasant but not outstanding collection for school and large public library collections.

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