Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears

Caldecott award.
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe (1987)
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale by Verna Aardema (1975)
A Story, a Story: An African Tale by Gail Haley (1999)

1.a Read-aloud versions available on youtube, but you may miss the picturebook experience if you rely ONLY on




3. Go to the Internet Sacred Text Archive at http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/index.htm. Read the introduction,

then go to South-African Folk-tales by James A. Honey and read these tales:

Lion Who Thought Himself Wiser than his Mother”
“The Dance for Water or Rabbit’s Triumph” and
three other tales of your choosing from this volume.

4. From the introduction page of the same Internet Sacred Text Archive, go to Yoruba Legends by M. I. Ogumefu.

This book may be our best bet at getting a native translation. Read at least the Preface and the first five tales.
5. One last part: the Cinderella story from Egypt at


Start with the collections from the Internet Sacred Text Archive (#s 2 and 3 above) and answer these questions:

Please answer these questions thoroughly

These stories have been collected by white immigrant people from native tellers (similar to the Joe Hayes or Joel

Chandler Harris situation) or collected by native Africans who have been educated in English by white immigrant


1 Where do you see the English-speaking, European influences?

2 What instructions would you give to these collectors in order to get accurate stories? This question is similar

to the one asked about Joe Hayes, the Anglo who collects Mexican fairy tales.
Again, about the Sacred Text Archive stories: 3 Are these African stories ready for American audiences in the 21st

century? 4
If not, what changes need to be made? You get to be editors in this question, using the best of what you’ve

learned so far about editing, to present a fair version of the stories that will also engage a 21st century child

audience.5 What editing principles/assumptions are you using when you suggest these changes?

Now about the picture books:
6. In the picture books, you have American editor-storytellers who are appealing to American audiences when they

edit their African stories. What changes have they made to make them more appealing and more marketable?

7 In these picture books the editor/storyteller falls back on the European stories we as American readers already

know. What similarities do you see between the picture books and any of the other stories we’ve read?

8 In these picture books, you see three different illustrators and styles—how do they influence you as an adult

reader? Is your adult reaction different from that of a child who cannot read but can listen to the story and

"read’ the picture?

9. What is the difference in the reading experience between the read-aloud versions on youtube and the actual

picturebook experience in your hands?