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The Magic Gourd
Diakite, Baba Wague; Baba Wague Diakite (illus.) The Magic Gourd. New York: Scholastic, 2003. $16.95, ISBN 0 439 43960 4.

Note: Brother Rabbit and Chameleon teach a greedy king the importance of generosity and friendship. (CABA Honor)

In Mali, gourds are very common receptacle. However, according to Baba Wague Diakite in The Magic Gourd,Chameleon gives Rabbit not merely a gourd as payment for rescuing him from a thorn bush but a magic gourd. News of this gift cannot be kept long. The greedy Mansa Jugu has his soldiers steal the gourd from Rabbit. Soon Rabbit returns to a life of poverty. Seeing Rabbit's pathetic situation, Chameleon gives him a magic rock which will enable to regain the magic gourd. Upon securing his gourd, Rabbit refuses the king's riches as a token of respect. Diakite retells this didactic Bamana tale--the importance of generosity and friendship.

The illustrations are dazzling. On each page, Diakite creates a new image in the form of a gourd. The mud cloth patterns characteristic of Mali become the border designs. The backing of the text and gourd illustrations are different colors which give the illusion of the rainbow.

THE MAGIC GOURD closes with explanations. Diakite translates the song of praise and clarifies its significance. He also describes his childhood in rural Mali. He enumerates the different Bamana patterns. Since he incorporated Bamana words, he provides a glossary. Finally, he links this folktale with others traditions.

This book is rich with literary, artistic, and cultural information. Diakite creates more than an illustrated folktale. He has facilitated the reader's understanding of Bamanla culture. The only lacking feature is a map to locate Kassaro and Mali.

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Rating: HR Grade: P Type: Book

Reviewed by: Patricia S. Kuntz

Subject: Black author / West Africa / Mali / Folklore / CABA Honor