“Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears” a West African tale retold by Verna Aardema has been a favorite in our household since Amber was young.

The story is simple and sad, but shows how misunderstandings can have drastic consequences. A mosquito annoys and iguana, so the iguana plugs his ears with sticks, which means he doesn’t hear the snake’s greeting. Snake thinks the iguana is planning some kind of mischief so he hides, unfortunately the only spot he finds is the rabbit’s hole, which sends rabbit scurrying. The crow sees the rabbit running so warns everyone of danger, which sends a monkey off through the trees, accidentally breaking a branch that kills one of Mother Owl’s owlets. Mother Owl is so sad she won’t wake the sun the next day. When night lasts and lasts, King Lion calls a meeting of all the animals and the whole situation is straightened out.

Two things make this a perfect read aloud book. As the story is told at the gathering, the order of events is repeated with each new bit added to the end and young kids love that repetition. Second, the sounds of the animals add to the story-telling: the snake’s slithering across the ground, wasawusu, wasawusu; the crow’s cry of kaa, kaa, kaa; even the iguana’s lumbering gate, badamin, badamin. It’s a fun story to read, which is important because if the child in your life is like Amber was, you’ll read it over and over and over.

The illustrations are amazing with sharp, vibrant colors put together in a way that feels like the different pieces were cut out and reassembled.

The snake looks rather frightening in that picture, but that’s just how the rabbit saw him when he didn’t understand what was going on.  He’s not actually a scary character at all, just at that moment his intentions were misunderstood.

It’s a full story, partly sad, so sad, but I think it has a good message. Your actions affect other people. We’re all connected, just like the animals in the jungle.

Purchase at Amazon.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.


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