Verna Aardema: Behind the Back of the Mountain Black Folktales from Southern Africa



Ghter is abducted by the giant beast Mapundu encounters the half people known as the Lungulebe and eventually marries another chief Saso and Gogwana the Witch a Tshindao tale in which a oung boy and his faithful dog outwit the terrible witch intent on killing them and free an entire village from her evilAnd finally The House in the Middle of the Road a Zulu tale in which a widow named Unanana must rescue her children from the elephant who has devoured themI enjoyed Behind the Back of the Mountain and was fascinated to see the ways in which Aardema has adapted the same tales in different contexts The evolution of the names used for African peoples in the post colonial context was also very interesting How Blue Crane Taught Jackal to Fly is described as a Hottentot tale in this 1973 book but by the 1995 publication of Jackal s Flying Lesson Khoikhoi was being used Parents and educators will want to be aware of this so children don t come away with the wrong terminology On a final note the black and white illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon who went on to collaborate with Aardema on Why Mosuitoes Buzz in People s Ears and Who s in Rabbit s House A Masai Tale are simply gorgeous This is well worth seeking out for the artwork alone. S for That Thonga Tsui and the Great Beast Zulu Saso and Gogwana the Witch Tshindao The House in the Middle of the Road Zu.

characters Behind the Back of the Mountain Black Folktales from Southern Africa

H a oung man with unsightly sores wins two unlikely wives for himself when he observes two beautiful winged maidens descending to the watering hole from heaven How Blue Crane Taught Jackal to Fly a Hottentot tale in which Blue Crane tricks Jackal into thinking he can learn to fly in retaliation for the trick he has played on Mother Dove Aardema retold this tale in her 1995 picture book Jackal s Flying Lesson where she describes it as a Khoikhoi tale The Winning of Kwelanga a Zulu tale in which a poor oung man named Zamo sets out to win the beautiful Kwelanga daughter of a powerful chief With its three impossible tasks each overcome by the hero with outside assistance this is another tale with many variants worldwide Sebgugugu the Glutton a Bantu tale in which a poor man loses every blessing given to him by Imana the Creator through his heedless ingratitude Aardema retold this tale in a 1993 picture book of the same name illustrated by Nancy L Clouse This for That a Thonga tale in which a trickster Rabbit makes a series of exchanges hoping eventually to obtain some water This is another story adapted by Aardema elsewhere in a 1997 picture book of the same name Tusi and the Great Beast a Zulu tale in which a beautiful chief s dau. Aidens Tshindao How Blue Crane Taught Jackal to Fly Hottentot The Winning of Kwelanga Zulu Sebgugugu the Glutton Bantu Thi.

What a fantastic collection of African folk tales I loved the illustrations My kids kept begging for one story Two ears before the publication of her classic picture book the Caldecott Medal winning Why Mosuitoes Buzz in People s Ears Verna Aardema came out with Behind the Back of the Mountain a collection of ten folktales from southern Africa Readers familiar with her work will undoubtedly recognize some of the stories here as Aardema has recycled a number of them in recent ears adapting them as picture books But whether the tales are familiar or unknown oung folklore enthusiasts will be glad to read them Included are Little Hen Eagle a Zulu tale in which a chief s daughter is sent to stay with her married older sister after she kills her brother s leopard The plot in which Little Hen Eagle s maidservant steals her clothing and takes her place is a widespread one in world folklore although the punishment meted out to the wrongdoer is refreshingly benign The Trick on the Trek a Bushman AKA San tale in which crocodile negotiates a short lived peace treaty between the animals of the water and the animals of the land in order to assure her people safe passage to another river Tshinyama s Heavenly Maidens a Tshindao tale in whic. Ten folk legends from southern Africa including Little Hen Eagle Zulu The Trick on the Trek Bushman Tshinyama's Heavenly

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A prolific American children's author and teacher Verna Norberg Aardema Vugteveen commonly known as Verna Aardema was born in 1911 in New Era Michigan She was educated at Michigan State University and taught grade school from 1934 1973 She also worked as a journalist for the Muskegon Chronicle from 1951 1972 In 1960 she published her first book the collection of stories Tales from