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Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti
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Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  3,818 ratings  ·  201 reviews
In this traditional tale from West Africa, Anansi, the Spider, sets out on a long journey. Threatened by Fish and Falcon, he is saved from terrible fates by his sons. But which of his six sons should he reward? The color, splendid design montage, and the authentic African language rhythms forge a new direction in picture books for children. Caldecott Honor Book. Lewis Carr ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 15th 1987 by Turtleback Books (first published January 1st 1948)
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A spectacular set of stories I discovered whilst volunteering as a teaching assistant at a north London school. It was used as part of an assembly put together by year 4 for Black History Month.
Anansi stories are part of an ancient mythology that is rooted in West African folklore and concerns the interaction between divine and semi divine beings; royalty, humans, animals, plants and seemingly inanimate objects. These stories have and continue to provide a moral foundation for the community in w
Bryan Wilson
This delightful version of Anansi the spider comes from the Ashanti, a tribe of Ghana, and explains why the moon is in the sky. The story definitely has a very different rhythm than typical Western tales, with each of Anansi's sons playing integral roles in rescuing their father from peril. Perhaps the best thing about this book is the extraordinary collection of illustrations found within--with sharp edges and heavily-contrasted colors, each conjures playfulness and awe. Definitely a fun read f ...more
“Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti” is a Caldecott Honor Book from master storyteller Gerald McDermott and it is about how Anansi’s six sons try to save Anansi from all kinds of trouble he gets involved in. “Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti” may have a confusing sentence structure that younger children might not understand, but it is still a great book for people who are fans of Anansi the Spider.

Gerald McDermott has done a brilliant job at both illustrating and writing this s
The world of traditional children's literature lost a gifted, prolific, and sometimes controversial artisan in Gerald McDermott on December 26, 2012. McDermott was twice awarded the Caldecott Honor Book Award (once in 1972 for this book being reviewed presently and a second time for his book entitled 'Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest' in 1993). He was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1974 for his art work in 'Arrow to the Sun'. The controversey surrounding McDermott's work is spe ...more
Nicole Doerr
Anasi the spider is a beautiful tale from the Ashanti people. This book written by Gerald McDermott is intended for preschool and school age children. It is a picture book and a folklore. It has received the Caldecott Honor. The story is about a spider who has six sons. All of the sons were named after the gift the had. Their names were See Trouble, Road Builder, River Drinker, Game Skinner, Stone Thrower, and Cushion. One day Anansi went out and got into some trouble. See trouble knew this and ...more
Katy Avoli-miller
Anansi is a spider that acts like a human in the West African folktale Anansi the Spider. This beautifully illustrated book was a Caldecott Award winner. The folktale is an important part of the oral tradition from West Africa. This particular tale tells the story of how the moon came to be. While this story is in the format of a picture book, it could also be used in various classroom settings. It could also be used to compare with American folktales to get a sense of a cross-cultural experienc ...more
Aug 18, 2011 Dolly rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
We attended a storytelling program at our local library that had a spider theme. Well, of course, one of the stories told was an Anansi tale. The librarian had put a selection of related books on a table in the back for children to borrow after the event, and we picked this one up. It was quite different from the Anansi books by Eric A. Kimmel, with a more angular and tribal illustrative style. We liked the bright colors and the simple, but powerful story. Our girls even decided to borrow the ki ...more
We have a little obsession with spiders at my house these days, and after reading several different reference books about spiders that the kids keep bringing home from the library, I picked out this one to read together. The kids instantly recognized that Anansi the Spider is written by the same author who created a book we own called Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest. McDermott's artwork is so unique, and captures so well the folk style of his storytelling, that it is unforgett ...more
Alexis Keable
Anansi the Spider shares the tale from the Ashanti trip in Ghana. It is a folk-tale shares their belief in how the son was put in the sky. Anansi had six sons who all helped save him from death. While on his way home from his rescue, Anasi finds an globe of light in the forest. He was so enamored by this globe that he decided to give it to the son who rescued him. Seeing as that all of his sons helped with his rescue he had to decide which one to give the globe of light to. Unsure of what to do, ...more
This is a traditional tale of Anansi the spider who goes out on a long journey far away from home and away from his six sons. Each of his sons has a unique name, such as Road Builder, Cushion, See Trouble, River Drinker, Game Skinner, and Stone Thrower. While on his journey, Anansi gets lost, and eaten by a fish. His son, See Trouble could sense that his father was in trouble, and alerted the other brothers. This set a chain reaction of what the brothers could do to save the father from this Fis ...more
Anansi the Spider is an African Folktale for children aged 4 – 7 years. It is a Caldecott Honor winner. This tale tells of a spider with 6 sons, all of whom help save him when he finds himself in trouble. As a reward, Anansi wants to give the son that saved him a white lighted globe. Because they cannot decide who truly saved him (they all did) the globe was placed in the sky and remains there today. There are so many things that children can learn from this short tale. The first is clearly how ...more
Traditional Literature: Trickster Tale

Characters: Kwaku Anansi (spider); his sons, See Trouble, Road Builder, River Drinker, Game Skinner, Stone Thrower, and Cushion; Fish, Falcon, Nyame the god of all things

Setting: West Africa-- Ghana. A long way from Anansi's home

Themes: family, personal talents, personal triumph, mischief, rescue, cooperation

Summary: A retelling of a traditional Ashanti oral tale. Anansi the spider gets into trouble, is saved repeatedly by his sons, and wishes to thank them.
Memory Kopp
Ananasi the Spider is a Caldecott Award winning Folktale retold with Ashanti language and design. The Ashanti is a culture out of West Africa in the country of Gahana. Ananasi is a folk-hero of the Ashanti. In this story Ananasi the spider goes out on an adventure and runs into trouble along the way. He finds himself in the path of a hungry fish and falcon. He ends up being rescued from his dangers by his sons each experts in their own right. For example, when he finds himself in trouble his son ...more
Mary Keller
First off, the illustrations in this book are great! They are simple lines and shapes but seem so intricate and bright. The story is Anansi the spider and his six sons who all have a special talent. Each son helps their father in a difficult situation... the father cannot decide who is more deserving for a gift so he asks the all knowing spider who gives them the light in the sky (the moon). I like this story because it teaches the importance of helping and sticking by your family.
In the story, Anansi's sons work together to save him from being eaten by a fish through using their talents together. Then a globe of light appeared and they fought over who should get the prize, so the God of all things decided to make it a moon in the sky for everyone to enjoy.

The illustrations were authentic to African culture in it's pattern and style. The simplicity of the symbols and artwork allows students to understand the story a little easier and gain insight as to traditional Africa
Don't have the words to express to you how deeply my students love this book. The art is unusual and appealing, the words are well chosen and beautiful in their spareness and the kids seem to love play-acting the characters. I wish I had a nickel for every argument that has broken out over which child gets to be 'Stone Thrower!'
Highly recommended!
Kristine Pratt
The art is kind of cool and very different. I liked the story itself, but the telling felt rough, especially the ending. With an ending that was rushed and almost felt tacked in. I liked the time and care given on the journey to rescue Anansi, but I wish very much that the same could be said of the last half dozen pages.
This book wasn't so great, but the discovery of it was. I cannot fully describe the joy I felt when I saw one of my formerly reluctant readers RUNNING up to me at the library saying, "LOOK, Miz Houghton! It's an Anansi book we haven't read yet! And I think it's by the guy who did Arrow to the Sun!" Priceless.
Anansi the Spider: A Tale From the Ashanti, is a short picture book about the beloved Ashanti folk-hero, Anansi the Spider and his six sons. The tale is a pourquoi story describing how the moon was discovered and came to be placed in the sky. It begins by introducing Anansi and his six sons who all have different, specific gifts such as, “River Drinker,” “Road Builder,” and “Cushion.” One day, Anansi the Spider goes on a journey only to find himself in great peril. Fortunately, one of his sons ...more
Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti (An Owlet Book) by Gerald McDermott is an adaption of the story of how Anansi is saved from terrible fates by his sons. Anansi sets out on a long, difficult journey, but falls into water and is swallowed by fish. No sooner is Anansi rescued than falcon carries hi into the sky, but again the father is rescued by his sons. Unable to decide which son to give a shining treasure in reward for rescuing him, Anansi asks the God of All Things to keep it until h ...more
Genre: Traditional
Title: Anansi the Spider, a tale from the Ashati
Summary: The Ashanti tribe, of Ghana, retells the story of Anansi the spider and his six sons. After his indecision to decide which son he should gift the moon to, he decides to give it to the Ashanti god. While he ponders, the god decides to place it in the sky for all to admire. Thus, this tale gives a delightful explanation to why the moon hovers in the sky.
a) Area for comment: illustration
b) The strength of this title
Michelle Higgins
This book can be used with primary and intermediate students.
I chose this book because of a unit I taught to my 2nd grade students on folktales. I went online looking for folktales with lesson plans and activities and this book came up. After reading with my students, I really liked the book. My students also really enjoyed this book and wanted me to read it again the next day.
In the story Anansi goes on a journey and he faces many obstacles. He gets into trouble and is saved each time by one of
Natalie Sabbath
Main Characters: Anansi the Spider and his six sons
Setting: Ashanti, Africa
POV: Third Person

Summary: “Anansi the Spider,” is the folklore tale of a spider and his six sons who lived in Ashanti, Africa. Anansi has six sons: See Trouble, Road Builder, River Drinker, Game Skinner, Stone Thrower and Cushion. One day, Anansi travels far from home and falls into a river and a fish swallows him whole. His son, See Trouble, sees that his father is in trouble so he tells all of his brothers and they go t
Grade/Interest: Pre K
Reading Level: 290L
Genre: Traditional Lit
Main Characters: Anansi, six sons, Nyame
Setting: Africa
POV: narrator
Anansi the Spider is a folktale from the Ashanti tribe, is a short picture book about the beloved Ashanti folk-hero, Anansi the Spider and his six sons. This African folktale describes how the moon was discovered and came to be placed in the sky. It begins by introducing Anansi and his six sons who all have different gifts such as, “River Drinker,” “Road Builder,” and
Bridget Cabbiness
Anansi the Spider by Gerald McDermott is a Caldecott Honor book of folklore for primary readers, ages five to eight. Anansi is a spider who has six sons, each with a particular power. When Anansi wonders away from home and gets lost, his six sons must come together and use each of their powers to bring their father home. My favorite thing about this book is the pictures, they are very bright and vibrant and really keep my attention. This is a story from Africa and the pictures really remind me o ...more
Nicole White
Anansi the Spider by Gerald McDermott

1. Genre: Traditional Literature

2. Anansi the Spider is a traditional tale told by the Ashanti tribe in Ghana, Africa. In this tale, the explanation for why the moon is in the sky is given.

3. a. Area for Comment: Illustrations

b. The illustrations in Anansi the Spider are very geometric and use mainly primary colors. I think this would be a great book to use in lower grades in re-telling by drawing pictures. The children would find it pretty easy to replicate
Chris Connolly
Category (Folktale Book)
1973 Caldecott Award
Found on pg.127 in the textbook


1. Six sons, each with amazing powers, find out that their father is in danger, and they are all call upon to help him. Anansi, the father, is swallowed by a giant fish and plucked up by an enormous bird. But he has no need to worry because his six sons are rescuing him from danger.

Use in the classroom

2. Students can write down the characteristics of what makes a folktale. The teacher can then ask if they can
Shanae Nicholson
Anansi The Spider is a great picture book for children. It is about a spider from the Ashanti tribe with 6 sons the first was called trouble son because he could see trouble from far away, the second son was road builder, the third was thirsty son because he was a river drinker, the fourth was game skinner, the fifth was stone thrower, and the last son was cushion because he was very soft. In the story Anansi the spider travels a long way from home and his sons come to help him get out of troubl ...more
Daniel Franklin
Summarize the book
In this tale from Ghana, Anansi the Spider is eaten by Fish and then carried away by Falcon; rather than being carried away, he is instead saved by his six sons, whom each have a unique power. They are Game Skinner, See Trouble, Road Builder, River Drinker, Stone Thrower, and Cushion.
After being saved by his sons, Anansi finds a glowing white orb in some grass. He decides he will give the beautiful orb to the son who saved him that day. Anansi asks Nyame, the God of All Thing
Anansi the Spider: a tale from the Ashanti by Gerald McDermott describes an African folk-hero, Anansi the spider. Tales of Anansi describe how he gets in and out of trouble or in the case of this story escape danger with the help of his sons. This Caldecott Honor Book has bright colorful pictures. Students will enjoy hearing about Anansi’s sons, each named for their interesting characteristics, rescuing Anansi from a fish and a falcon. This story has simple text and would be great for retelling ...more
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Gerald McDermott is an award-winning children’s book illustrator and an expert on mythology. His work often combines bright colors and styles with ancient imagery.

He has created more than 25 books and animated films. His first book, Anansi the Spider, was awarded a Caldecott Honor, and he’s since won the Caldecott Medal for Arrow to the Sun and another Caldecott Honor.
More about Gerald McDermott...
Arrow to the Sun Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa Monkey: A Trickster Tale from India Coyote: A Trickster Tale from the American Southwest

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