Wednesday, May 25, 2011
The Hatseller and the Monkeys
The Hatseller and the Monkeys by Baba Wague Diakite, 1999.
Diakite learned this tale in his home country of Mali, but he notes that it has appeared in folklore from Egypt, Sudan, Mali, India and England. BaMusa loves making and selling wide brimmed dibiri hats and close-fitting fugulan caps from town to town. One day, he is napping under a tree when many curious monkeys inspect his wares and decide to try them on. When BaMusa awakens, every monkey is also napping, each face covered by a shady hat. How will he reclaim his caps? Could the mischievous little monkeys have something to teach him? Readers familiar with Caps for Sale- A Tale of a Peddler, a Monkey and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina will enjoy this twist on an old favorite.
In Diakite’s ceramic tile paintings, monkeys abound. Each page is bordered with a continuous black and white lineup of the playful creatures. There is an illustration of a town gathering where a clown, Koroduga, wears a monkey mask. And naughty monkeys crouch, play and snooze in the main pictures. BaMusa’s hats are charming, with bold patterns and decorated peaks. Even the smiling, golden sun wears a cap.