"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Somali Folktales from the Minnesota Humanities Center

Somali Folktales from the Minnesota Humanities Center:

 Wiil Waal: A Somali Folktale (Somali Bilingual Book Project) retold by Kathleen Moriarty. Illus. by Amin Amir. Somali translation by Jamal Adam, 2007.

Wiil Waal is the nickname for a mid-19th century sultan named Garad Farah Garad Hirsi who ruled Somalia. He was a real man and apparently a great leader. This is a story told of him, which may or may not be true. He liked to test his subjects to find his match in wits. One day, he asked them to bring him the part of the sheep that symbolizes what can divide or unite people. Almost no one had any idea what this might be. One poor man prepared to take a sheep’s rib to the sultan, when his eldest daughter suggested that he take the gullet. The man was fearful that this would be seen as an insult, but when the sultan saw the offering, he was very pleased. Borrow this story from your local library to find out why.

Amir has illustrated the story with gouache paintings that show the land, homes and livestock of the ruler and his villagers.

The Lion's Share Qayb Libaax retold by Said Salah Ahmed. Illus. by Kelly Dupre, 2007.

The predators of the forests of Somalia hunt together and take down a camel. Then they work to drag it under a tree. All of the animals are hungry, but must wait for lion to give his approval before they eat. But, there’s trouble when the lion wants the others to determine how the meat should be divided. The lion’s share is not fair!

Dupre’s illustrations are linoleum block prints painted with acrylic gouache. They show stylized grass, trees and animals, and happily soften some of the more gruesome details of the story. For example, the division of a slain animal’s body isn’t any more disturbing to look at than red edged puzzle pieces.

Dhegdheer, A Scary Somali Folktale retold by Marian A. Hassan. Illus.by Betsy Bowen. 2006.

Dhegdheer is strong, swift, and unfortunately, a nasty cannibal. She sets a trap to catch some human food, and before long a young mother and her son come along. Dhegdheer’s daughter tries to help them, but no one can outrun Dhegdheer. It is up to the Hargega Valley to make way for them and let them escape. But, the valley knows who is sinful, and eats evil ones up. Who will be able to cross this valley?

The book’s pictures are painted in gouache on black gesso. Dhegdheer is a satisfactorily nasty looking woman with huge pointy ears.


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