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Why the Crab Has No Head: An African Tale
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Why the Crab Has No Head: An African Tale

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  24 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
"The appealing tale is simply told and well presented in clear, easy-to-read type with each page handsomely framed in patterns of animals, birds, and geometric designs. The effect is brilliant". -- The Horn Book (3/88)
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published April 1st 1988 by Carolrhoda Books (first published February 1988)
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Shania Jackson
Oct 25, 2016 Shania Jackson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: traditional, animal
Appropriate Grade Levels: Grades 1 - 3 (Ages 6 - 9)

Have you ever wondered why the world is the way it is today? Why the Crab Has No Head tells the amazing story of the beginning of the animals in Africa based on the god Nzambi Mpungu. Poor crab - maybe next time he'll be more humble.

The book is a real adventure in African culture. The images are all in black and white, creating more of a historic tribe feel and allows children to feel as if they are hearing the story as a member themselves. Usin
Feb 24, 2012 David rated it liked it
Why the Crab Has No Head: An African Tale by Barbara Knutson retells the African folktale from the Bakongo people of Zaire in which crab's pride influences his creator, Nzambi Mpungu, who leaves crab without a head to keep him humble, after seeing how proud crab is acting. The text is framed with patterns of animals, birds, and geometric designs.

Knutson's illustrations are drawn in black and white, with each page framed in patterns of geometric designs. My favorite images include leopard &
Nzambi Mpungu is creating the animals, she took all day to make the elephant and by night she is too tired to finish her next creation, so she tells crab to come back the next morning for a head. Crab goes to all the other animals bragging about the fine head that he will recieve and invites the other animals to Nzambi's the next morning to watch. Nzambi sees how proud crab is and decides that crab is just fine the way she is.

I love these fables of how animals became the way they are.

While this
Leslee Mahoney
May 15, 2013 Leslee Mahoney rated it really liked it
This book was unlike any other children's book I have read. The illustrations were all in black and white and the text referenced African animal names but didn't explain what the animal is. The morel of the story was great though in teaching that bragging will do you no good. It was an interesting way to explain why the crab has no head and makes me wonder what the author would say about a turtle's head.
Gianna Mosser
Aug 30, 2014 Gianna Mosser rated it it was ok
With the exception of the female creator, there wasn't that much here. The illustrations were beautiful in the black and white, but other than the fact that the truth can be "less true" or "more true", I thought the moral could be tough to tease out for a little guy. They don't quite understand the concept of pride yet.
Jan 02, 2013 Kelly rated it really liked it
Illustrated by the author. The perfect length for a storytime, this is an interesting African tale. The illustrations are all black and white, but the geometric design makes them very bold. A story with a moral, like Aesop.
Becca Holcomb
Apr 10, 2011 Becca Holcomb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I would use this book as a mulitcultral text. It is a folktale about a crab who has no head, but it is a symbol of humility. The reason why I like this book for my class is because it brings in the African culture and style of telling folktales.
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