Hatseller and the Monkeys
Diakite, Baba Wague;
Hatseller and the Monkeys.
New York: Scholastic, 1999. $15.95,
Note: A Malian version of the familiar story of a man who sets off to sell his hats, only to have them stolen by a treeful of mischievous monkeys.
Reviewed for H-AfrTeach by Meryl Siegal, Linguisitics, Holy Names College
Review of The Hatseller and the Monkeys
How many times and in how many different ways can a tale about a
man who sells hats and gets them stolen by monkeys be told?
More than once, and the tale will vary depending on the cultural
context. In this version of the tale from Mali, West Africa,
Baba Wagu Diakit has given us the traditional Fulani character,
BaMusa, as the hatseller. The monkeys throw down some mangos to
BaMusa who eats them, and with a full stomach is able to figure
out how to get his hats back. The story suggests mutual
dependency which is portrayed through the relationship beween
the monkeys and BaMusa. Although the monkeys steal the
hatseller's hats, they also force him to consider how to solve
the problem of getting his hats back and they feed him. I
In Slobodkina's book, _Caps for Sale_, there is no hungry
hatseller. It is the hatseller's anger that is a catalyst to
solving the problem. He throws the last remaining hat he has
down to the ground and the monkeys follow him, throwing their
hats down. One by one, he is able to retrieve his hats.
Both books are lovely, Slobodkina's illustrations presenting a
European-style landscape, Baba Wagu Diakit's full-page color
illustrations are based in West African life. Mutual help in
the face of mischievous, playful deeds gives the book a
distinctive West African flavor. Furthermore, children will love
the book because of the sounds that pepper several of the
characters' actions. One special aspect of the book is the
author's explanation of the BaMusa character, and how the story
fits into his Fulani culture. Moving from an oral to a written
mode for such a lovely tale is the gift that Baba Wagu Diakit
has given us with this book.
. Slobodkina, Esphyr. (1940, 1947)._ Caps for Sale_. USA:
Harper & Row Publishers.
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Reviewed by: Meryl Siegal , Linguisitics, Holy Names College
Subject: Black author / Folklore - Mali / Africa, West