Fables from Kenya
. Macmillan Press . London and Basingstoke
PE1130.3.A2 F3 1971 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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Here is a slightly larger than 5 x 7 pamphlet containing fourteen folktales from Kenya on some 52 pages, followed by four pages of comprehension questions, and one page of topic words. Each story gets one full-page black-and-white illustration. The short pre-statement on the series of Controlled Readers is remarkably unclear on the target audience, which I take to be non-English speakers. Farrant does a good job of keeping each story short and pointed; as a result, I would call these stories fables, even though most of them are aetiological folktales. An industrious rabbit tricks an old woman into thinking that he is farming her field; an old Masai takes the thorn out of a lion's paw, and the lion in gratitude does not attack the village. A poor family receives three wishes so that they may rise up from poverty, but the mother, having used her wish to become young and beautiful, is taken to be the chief's new bride. The son in anger wishes that his mother be transformed into a dog. The father, upon returning, has to use his wish to restore his wife. The experience does cure her however of her constant complaining. Hyenas now limp because once six of them stood on each other's shoulders to reach some meat supposedly growing on trees--and then fell all over each other when the top hyena would not share. Two of the stories late in this collection take up familiar fables. In The Jackal and the Camel (41), the jackal, having eaten his fill of sugar cane, sings and dances for joy, attracting the farmers to the still-eating camel. They wound him. The jackal's later explanation to the camel is that, when he has eaten sugar cane, he feels like dancing and shouting with joy. The camel takes him halfway across the river and sits down. When the surprised jackal asks why, he receives an answer in kind. The cricket convinces the ass that he sings so well because he does not drink or eat anything but dew (44). The stupid ass tries to do the same. The last story, The Steam Engine (51), describes the argument between fire and water; each claims to make the engine go.