Monday, January 8, 2018


Ashley Bryan's African Tales, Uh-HuhAshley Bryan's African Tales, Uh-Huh by Ashley Bryan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After the recent publication of the Newbery Honor Book Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams by Ashley Bryan, I had to read up on the author’s middle grade works. I was delighted to find a timeless gem in his Laura Ingalls Wilder Award winning collection of folktales. Lyrically retold and beautifully illustrated, the fourteen stories from Africa’s many folk traditions are a must-read for middle graders. The humor and wisdom resonating from the deeds of these heroes, animals, tricksters, and chieftains will amuse, inspire, and inform all readers.

A compilation of three previously published collections of African stories, this volume offers a wide selection from the continent’s great storehouse of invention. Readers will explore tales from cultures as diverse as the western (Ashanti), northern (Hausa), eastern (Masai), and southern (San/Bushman) regions of Africa. Every story is filled with universal human experiences and usually finds ways to connect people to their natural environment and animal neighbors.

Byran’s narrative voice captures the oral tradition of storytelling and brings each adventure very much alive. From this tradition, readers will recognize echoes of stories found in African American spirituals, folk songs, and folklore. The predecessors of John the Conqueror, Big Mama, Black Jack, Whistlin’ Woman, Br'er Rabbit, Aunt Nancy Spider, and Old Man Tarrypin inhabit these enchanting and empowering stories. This book is perfect for kids who like reading folktale-inspired fantasy or adventure novels based on mythologies.

All the best, Chris Brandon Whitaker!


  1. Ashley Bryan is not only a wonderful writer and artist, he is a generous and kind human being, who I had the pleasure of meeting. If you are ever in Little Cranberry Island in Maine, be sure to visit the Ashley Bryan Storyteller Pavilion, where you can see his gorgeous sea glass window panels and other artwork.

    1. Thanks, Wendy, and yes, Ashley is an amazing person, too. So talented in so many ways!

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