Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Head, Body, Legs: a Story from Liberia
Head, Body, Legs: a Story from Liberia Retold by Won-Ldy Paye & Margaret H. Lippert. Illus. by Julie Paschkis, 2002.
This is a traditional creation story from the Dan people of northeastern Liberia. All alone, Head is only able to roll around and eat what he finds on the ground. This changes when he meets Arms, then Body and finally, Legs. The authors say that elders tell this tale to children to show the importance of cooperation. Paschkis’ illustrations were inspired by the Asafo flags of the Fante people from coastal Ghana. The simple dark shapes of the body parts contrast with the colorful backgrounds of orange, blue, lavender, etc. Head’s cheerful expression keeps the story light, and something that could be gruesome (disembodied parts) with a different treatment stays fun. Kids will laugh at the pieces’ mistaken attempts to join together before they find the perfect fit.