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Raouf Mama

RAOUF MAMA

WHY GOATS SMELL BAD
AND OTHER STORIES FROM BENIN

Translated and retold
by Mama
with illustrations
by Imna Arroyo

North Haven, Connecticut.
Linnet Books, 1997

REVIEWS


School Library Journal. A fascinating collection of 20 traditional folktales that makes the Fon culture of Benin come alive. According to Mama, a native speaker of Fon, this is the first time many of these tales have been translated and retold in English. The brief stories are well suited for sharing or reading aloud. They are grouped in four broad categories: 'Orphans, Twins, and Other Children,' 'Cautionary Tales and Spirit Stories,' 'Pourquoi Tales and Animal Wisdom,' and 'Trickster Tales: Yogbo the Glutton.' While the selections evoke the cultural values of the Fon people, the structure of some of them will be familiar to many readers. For example, 'The Prince and the Orphan,' with its beautiful protagonist, her cruel stepsisters, and handsome prince, is a variant of the Cinderella tale-type. Mama provides an excellent overview of Benin culture and folklore in his introduction, and includes brief notes for each story that explain background information, known variants, and mention of any alterations he has made to the oral tale. Stylized woodcuts appear at the beginning of each grouping of tales. Although the stories stand well on their own, the pictures help place them within the context of their culture. Overall, this is an important contribution to folklore scholarship. .


 

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