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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


The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May 1998. Mama's words take 'flight over countries and kingdoms of long ago and alight' on these twenty traditional tales from the Fon culture. Accessibly retold by Benin native Mama, the stories in this well-organized and often humorous compilation divide into four sections: Orphans, Twins, and Other Children; Cautionary Tales and Spirit Stories; Pourquoi Tales and Animal Wisdom; and Trickster Tales featuring Yogbo the Glutton. Mama's vigorous retellings have style and verve, and they lend themselves easily to reading or telling aloud. Readers may recognize familiar variants-Cinderella in 'The Prince and the Orphan,' Demeter and Persephone in 'The Girl Who Brought the Rainy Season and the Dry Season'-and a comparison of similarities and differences from culture to culture would enliven any group discussion. Robust full-page black-and-white woodcuts open each section. Mama's acknowledgments, introduction, and closing notes for each tale explain his sources and research methods, give background on the Fon culture, and specifically note if, why, and how he altered each tale.


 

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