The Hatseller and the Monkeys: A West African Folktale

by Baba Wagué Diakité

BaMusa the hatseller is alarmed when he wakes up from a nap beneath a mango tree... read more

BaMusa the hatseller is alarmed when he wakes up from a nap beneath a mango tree and discovers all of his hats are gone. "Hee Manun! Hee Manun!" he cries, and voices from high in the tree answer "Hoo, hoo- hoo! Hoo, hoo-hoo!" The tree is full of monkeys, each one wearing one of BaMusa's colorful hats. BaMusa tries to frighten the monkeys way, but they only imitate his every sound and action. Faint with hunger, BaMusa cannot think clearly about what to do Finally, he takes a rest and eats a meal of mango fruit, and it is then that the solution comes to him. "And so it as that BaMusa learned from the monkeys: It is with a full stomach that one thinks best. For an empty satchel cannot stand." Elements of this delightful West African tale will be recognizable to children who know the story Caps for Sale. This version from Mali is illustrated with great wit and charm by reteller Diakité, who created distinctive, hand-painted ceramic tiles as a visual accompaniment to the story. Each crisp, double-page spread features a full-page color tile illustration and a playful black-and-white border design of active, mischievous monkeys. A fine author's note on the origins of this particular version, a bibliography of variant versions of the tale in other nations, and a pronunciation note round out this appealing and amusing story. (Ages 4-8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2000

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