Anansi Finds a Fool ~ Book Sharing Monday

Anansi Finds a Fool

retold by Verna Aardema
pictures by Bryna Waldman

With the exception of Egypt, according to Story of the World, “The ancient people of Africa didn’t leave mummies or clay tablet behind them. But they did leave stories, passed down from person to person. Anansi the Spider is a favorite character of African storytellers.”

The kids and I enjoyed the story presented about Anansi and his friend Turtle. After our lesson last week we agreed to find more stories about Anansi at the library. We read several (see Weekly Report #25 for a complete list) tales from West Africa folklore… most of which featured Anansi the Spider.

My favorite was Anansi Finds a Fool retold by Verna Aardema. What I liked about this story is that it featured Anansi as a young man, rather than a spider. The moral of the story, like most of Anansi’s stories, “When you dig a hole for someone else, you will fall into it yourself.”

Frequently in children’s literature, animals are the main characters. Giving human characteristics to objects or animals is known as anthropomorphism. There are many good reasons to use animals as characters in children’s books, but one is that animals are multicultural. Children of all races and colors can relate to them. Another good reason is that you can exaggerate with animals. Animal characters can do things in a book that a child character wouldn’t do. However, anthropomorphism can also lead to misconceptions. As a member of the National Science Teachers Association, I am constantly aware of this as I read books with my children. It opens a lot of dialogue and provides an avenue for discussion.

Another reason I really liked this book is for the illustrations. I absolutely love the soft yet vibrant colors… the variety of prints of the characters clothing. I was intrigued as so often the colors of West African are bolder. This image above is a favorite from the book. Before my kiddos could walk on their own, I used a stroller only when jogging… I used a car seat only when they were in the car… otherwise I used a wrap. I wore my children much as the mother illustrated here is doing. Sweetie commented, “But you didn’t wear me on your back, Mama.” No… I couldn’t quite get the hang of it in that position but I wore the wrap all the time. Shopping. Doing chores. Reading. Preparing meals. While visiting with friends and family. Hiking. Scrapbooking.

It was very comfortable and the kiddos frequently fell asleep in the wrap. I got so accustomed to it that while doing errands around town, I could easily slip it on/off… buckle them up safely and proceed to our next stop… all the while they contined to sleep. They were close to me – could hear my heartbeat, the warmth of my body – yet I had my hands free to work. I strongly believe that the Maya Wrap (just one of many options available) – along with homeschooling, breastfeeding & co-sleeping – is one of the best choices I made as a parent.

For more information on anthromorphism in childrens literature, check out Picture Perfect Science Lessons. More more information on baby wearing, check out Maya Wrap.

About Eva Varga

Eva is passionate about education. She has extensive experience in both formal and informal settings. She presently homeschools her two young children, teaches professional development courses through the Heritage Institute, and writes a middle level secular science curriculum called Science Logic. In addition to her work in education, she is an athlete, competing in Masters swimming events and marathons. In her spare time she enjoys reading, traveling, learning new languages, and above all spending time with her family. ♥

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