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Origin of Life on Earth: An African Creation Myth
Anderson, David / Kathleen Wilson (illus.); Kathleen Wilson (illus.) Origin of Life on Earth: An African Creation Myth. Mt. Airy, MD: Sights Productions, 1991. $18.95, ISBN 0-9629978-544.

Note: This beautifully illustrated picture book tells of the adventures of Obatala, a Yoruba deity who descends from the sky to create the world. Winner of the 1992 African Studies Association's Children Book Award.

David Anderson weaves an incredibly wonderful tale in his retelling of "The Origins of Life on Earth." This story is based on the Yoruba creation myth. At last, we have a very good rendition of this story that is readable by children and adults alike. I recommend it for every child (K-12). The story is so dramatically told that it draws its reader to the imaginary world it creates. Obatala represents what is human in all of us - - children's inquisitiveness and desire for adventure. The author and illustrator demonstrate their sensitivity to some of the current issues in the society today, such as gender and multiculturalism. The introduction provides a necessary background for locating the story culturally and geographically. My suggestion is to add a map of Africa with Nigeria or Ife (the home of the Yoruba) identified. It is not enough to mention "west and north of the Niger" delta without showing the region on a map, as some of these readers may not know where the Niger is in the first place. This weakness not withstanding, the book is well done. The non-gender specific nature of the "all powerful" Olurun is commendable, for it emphasizes the need to recognize that powerful figures can belong to either gender. Appreciation is shown for all kinds of people, whether they have twisted legs, partial fingers, complete body parts or plugged ears. The authors suggest the common origin of all people. In addition to the wonderful narrative, the book is dramatically well illustrated. Kathleen Wilson, expresses the current desire for an affirmation of African roots within the African American community through a splash of colors that brings to life the beautiful designs of African textiles. Not only is the story endearing, but the colorful illustrations are so well coordinated that one can almost "see" the beautiful shades of the African landscape. This book is highly recommended.

Rating: HR Grade: P / E Type: Book

Reviewed by: Maureen N. Eke, Michigan State

Subject: Folklore / Mythology / Yoruba / Nigeria / West Africa / CABA Winner