Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in Peoples Ears: A West African Tale (Picture Puffin Books (Pb))

Aardema, V. (1975). Why mosquitoes buzz in people's ears: A West African tale. New York: Dial Press.

If you throw a pebble into the water, it creates rings that float away from the pebble and move the rest of the water. That's what is happening in this story. Because Mosquito tells Iguana a tall tale, Iguana puts sticks in his ears, and doesn't hear python. Then python goes down a rabbit hole, which scares away rabbit, and so on. The ripple effect ends with the death of one of Mother Owl's babies. So, King Lion calls everyone together to get to the bottom of the issue.

There are several themes in the story, but fairness comes to mind first. Is it fair that Mosquito is blamed for the death of the baby owl? How can we make sure that our own actions do not cause harm to anyone? Is the tongue mightier than the sword?

The title page tells that the illustrators, Leo and Diane Dillon, cut the illustrations out of vellum after using watercolors, pastels, and India ink to draw them. The use of African art style, together with the animals sounds (onomatopoeia) fit well with this re-told African folk tale and the genre of traditional literature. I like in particular that the background colors are light during the day and black during the sun's absence. There is also some pattern language, like the House that Jack Built.

In my picture book posts, I am going to brainstorm ways that the book can be used in content areas.

Social Studies:
governing fairly, courts of law
Art: folk art style, African masks
Science: food chain, predators, explaining why things in the real world happen by whimsey (other books - How the Stars Fell from the Sky)
Music: create a melody for the patterned language, use different rhythm instruments (African if possible) for the sounds in the tale,
Drama: re-create the tale as a skit or reader's theatre

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