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OBARA AND THE MERCHANTS

Author: Michelle Bodden

Illustrator: kwenci Jones

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Publisher: Water Daughter Publishing, LLC,

Material: hard cover

Summary: Life here in this part of Nigeria could not be more desolate: the ground can not grow plants, the hunters could find no prey; there is no water. So that he could eat, Obara left his village to hunt. He returned with his prey and put together a stew that was so aromatic that tradesman from miles away followed the scent. When asked to share, Obara did not hesitate, even knowing this was his only food. In return, the tradesman shared their bounty, as well. This is apicture book with a story reminiscent of classic old-world folktales.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, playtime reading, read aloud book, learning to read

Recommended Age: read together: 3 to 8; read yourself: 6 to 9

Interest Level: 3 to 8

Age of Child: Read with nearly 6-year-old child.

Young Reader Reaction: Our child enjoyed the story and asked questions about the illustrations. While s/he sat patiently, the story did not make that heart-felt connection of other books. This has potential for helping our child with building vocabulary as s/he learns to read (i.e., second grade).

Adult Reader Reaction: This is a wonderful story that almost ends too abruptly. What did Obara do with his newly-gotten gains? Was he able to help others in his village? The story is self-contained, but still left me wanting more.

Pros: The story is well told and is, in essence, a representation of the adage that when you share, your bounty comes back to you ten-fold. It is a great book for families looking for stories that have an African tradition.

Cons: It would be nice to have gone the next step with the story to know what Obara did.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a nice story and it has an important lesson. Still, it is one that your child will outgrow.

If You Liked This Book, Try: WHEN BAT WAS A BIRD AND OTHER ANIMAL TALES FROM AFRICA   THE LOST FEATHER   TELL ME A STORY 1: TIMELESS FOLKTALES FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Educational Themes: The book offers the opportunity to talk about Africa, both through geography, tradition, and culture (e.g., oral history, folklore). The story itself opens the door to talk about sharing (even when it's something precious to you) and community.

Literary Categories: Fiction - Fables and folklore, cultures and tradition, picture book

Date(s) Reviewed: July 2007

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