This is a wonderful, humorous tale adapted by renowned storyteller Eric A. Kimmel from a Yemenite story called, “The Answered Prayer.” As the author sThis is a wonderful, humorous tale adapted by renowned storyteller Eric A. Kimmel from a Yemenite story called, “The Answered Prayer.” As the author states in his author’s note, although it was “not specifically a Joha story, it lent itself to Joha’s unique blend of wisdom and foolishness.” Joha is a well-known “wise-fool” character found in stories throughout the Middle East.
In this story, Joha finds a magical wishing stick on his journey to Baghdad. Excitedly, he wishes for a new pair of slippers to replace his tattered sandals. (A very practical wish, as his are so worn.) However, not only does he not get the new slippers, his own shoes are no longer on his feet! Angry that he now has to make his journey barefoot, he wishes that the stick would just disappear. The stick not only does not disappear, but it remains stuck to his hand. Of course, as such stories go, things only get worse—including an unfortunate run-in with the sultan. As he runs from the sultan’s men, he finds a wise ,old shopkeeper who, after allowing him to hide, asks him what is wrong. As Joha explains the day’s events, he bemoans the unluckiness of this wishing stick. Upon eying the stick, the wise shopkeeper points out the reason for poor Joha’s bad luck: the stick has been held upside-down the whole time, thus reversing all of the wishes that he has made. So, with the suggestion of the old man, he goes back to fix things with the sultan. What happens next, you will have to read for yourself. The ending is amusing and unexpected.
This story would be a great inclusion to a study of folktales! It could be used with a variety of ages of students from Kindergarten on up. It would be particularly great as part of a look at other multicultural stories containing wise-fool characters, such as the Juan Bobo tales from Spanish-speaking countries, and the people from Chelm found in Eastern-European Jewish stories. One of the things I really like about the book is that the author and illustrator depict the character in a respectful way, making Joha humorous without making him a stereotype, idiot sort of character. ...more
This is a creative take on the story of Little Red Riding Hood. This retelling of the classic story takes place in West Africa. Instead of the wolf taThis is a creative take on the story of Little Red Riding Hood. This retelling of the classic story takes place in West Africa. Instead of the wolf taking on the appearance of the grandmother and Little Red finding the wolf in the grandmother's place, the opposite happens in this story. As Salma (the granddaughter) goes to the market for her grandmother, Mr. Dog (in the place of the wolf) comes across Salma and tricks her into giving him some of her clothes and other items she is carrying. Then he goes to Granny's house, pretending he is Salma.
Another difference in the stories is the dialogue between the person being tricked and the wolf/dog doing the tricking. Instead of the traditional dialogue between Little Red and the wolf-in-grandma's-clothing, there is a different twist. In the traditional version the dialogue has a very clear pattern to it. In that version Little Red makes a series of exclamations with the following pattern, "Grandmother, what (adjective) (noun) you have!" The wolf, then, usually follows with the following pattern: "The better to (verb) you with, my dear!" In this version, the pattern is not quite as obvious. Granny makes other comments before noting each time, "What _________ you have!" Mr. Dog then reacts to her comments, rather than really speaking much. There is only one time when he responds to her question of whether or not he is indeed Salma, with "Oh, yes, yes, yes!" as he wags his tail. Granny's realization comes not only with witnessing that "Salma" has a tail, but that this "Salma" cannot sing their song with her; "Salma" only sings, "WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!"
A final difference between the two stories is that there is no hunter to save the victim from the wolf, nor is anyone actually eaten in this story. Instead, Salma, her grandfather and others come to scare off Mr. Dog, wearing traditional masks of Anansi and Ka Ka Motobi the Bogeyman. They shake, beat, and clap traditional instruments to get their point across as well. ...more
This is a favorite Yiddish folktale of mine. I have heard it, read it, and seen it performed in various forms. My favorite version was with puppets byThis is a favorite Yiddish folktale of mine. I have heard it, read it, and seen it performed in various forms. My favorite version was with puppets by puppeteer and storyteller named Marilyn Price. The title is actually one of my personal mottos I try to live by. Just as the Rabbi gets the poor man to understand as he has the man put more and more animals into the house, it is important to remember that when things are just about as bad as they can be, just remember, things "could always be worse." When the man is finally told to remove all of the things that he was asked to put into his house, he finds his house is not quite so cramped and chaotic as they once seemed to be....more
I thought it interesting that the magical being that helps the Cinderella-type character in this story is the spirit of a fish and not a magical persoI thought it interesting that the magical being that helps the Cinderella-type character in this story is the spirit of a fish and not a magical person. It is interesting to note that in the book The Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story by Rebecca Hickox, the magical being that assists the heroine is also a fish. Magical fish can be found in other stories as well, such as The Fool and the Fish: a Tale from Russia retold by Lenny Hort and the Grimms brothers tale of The Fisherman and His Wife . It makes sense that cultures who depend on fishing for livelihood and food would revere such creatures, weaving them into tales of magic and mystery.
Like many Native American animal tales, personification is used to explain how animals got a certain trait. In this story, our protagonist is Turtle.Like many Native American animal tales, personification is used to explain how animals got a certain trait. In this story, our protagonist is Turtle. He is best friends with Possum. When the two of them manage to out-wit Wolf, Turtle manages to convince himself that he is the sole slayer of the greedy foe. However, Turtle’s human-like boastfulness lands him in trouble with the other wolves. Eventually, his inflated ego lands him smack into river with a once “beautiful shiny shell […:] cracked into a dozen pieces.”
This story could be compared with fables and folktales from other cultures showing the use of personification of animals to teach a lesson. A chart could be made showing certain lessons or themes and the tales associated with these lessons or themes. Then a comparison/ contrast could be made showing what animals were associated with which lesson and tale. ...more
This is one of my favorite folktales. I remember my school librarian reading this to my class during library time in my early elementary school years.This is one of my favorite folktales. I remember my school librarian reading this to my class during library time in my early elementary school years. The full name of the title character was so catchy, having a musical, rhythmic feel to it. We anxiously awaited each chance to try chiming in on the telling of the boy’s impossibly long name, each time getting a little better at pronouncing and relaying each part of the name. When I started teaching bilingual Spanish-speaking primary students, I purchased a Spanish version of this book. I couldn’t wait to share the story with my students. The Spanish version captures the same wonderful use of language as the English version. Every time I read it to them, they delighted in trying to pronounce and help relate that exhaustingly long name of the boy. I was glad that they got as much joy from this book as I did when I was their age!...more
I really liked this book. This was a true storytelling type of book. As I read this story, I could “hear” the storyteller in my head. The language ofI really liked this book. This was a true storytelling type of book. As I read this story, I could “hear” the storyteller in my head. The language of the story, use of actual Lonkundo terms and onomatopoeic phrases make the story come alive. I immediately had the urge to read it out loud. (I offered to read it aloud to my husband, but he wasn’t quite as enamored with the idea as I was.) I really could see how the storyteller would use the rhythm and musicality of the words used to verbally “show” the movement of animals as they traveled: “Then there were Bowane [the civet cat:] walking, ika-o, ika-o, ika-o ; Embenga [the pigeon:] flapping, bwa-wa, bwa-wa, bwa-wa ; Nguma [the python:] slithering, swe-o, swe-o, swe-o ; And Ulu [the tortoise:] waddling, ta-ka, ta-ka, ta-ka, ta-ka --- The four of them traveling to Tondo.”
This book would be great to use with primary age students. After introducing the Lonkundo terms used in the story and reading the story to them, the teacher could have them listen again to the story paying close attention to the onomatopoeic words. This would lead perfectly into the idea of imagining or getting a “movie” in there heads about what is going on in the story. Later, after students are familiar with the story, it could be reread having students act out the story as the other students speak the onomatopoeic words. This will not only be a fun way to retell and enjoy the story, but to drive home that correlation between words and ideas which help us imagine the actions of a story. ...more