Thursday, February 5, 2009

10. Spider and the Sky God: An Akan Legend

Title: Chocolate, Deborah M. Newton. Spider and the Sky God: An Akan Legend. Legends of the World series. No Location: Troll Associates, 1993.
Summary: Ananse the Spider spins beautiful webs, but his dearest wish is to spin beautiful tales. Knowing that all stories belong to the Sky God, Ananse strikes a bargain with Him. Sky God demands 4 things: Onini the Python, Mmoboro the Hornet, Osebo the Leopard and Mmoatia the Fairy. One by one, by asking the advice of his wise wife Aso, Ananse tricks each creature and traps it. He gathers all four creatures in a giant web and takes it to the Sky God, who blesses Ananse and gives him his stories, renaming them Spider Stories. Then Ananse travels from town to town, spinning his tales for all to enjoy.
Cultural origins and how identified: From cataloging information in the book's colophon: "Folklore-Ghana". From the book's afterword: "Ananse the Spider is the hero of stories told by the Akan people of West Africa. The Akan include several tribes in the southwest part of the country of Ghana."
Audience: The website says the story is appropriate for ages 9-12, while the Paperback Swap website says it's for ages 4-8. I think the story would work for both older and younger kids. It would make a fun library storytime and also work in the classroom. I love Ananse stories; he's crafty and greedy, but likeable. In this version, he needs the good advice of his wife to succeed in his venture, so there's an opportunity to emphasize how cooperation can help one succeed.
Notes on adaptation for telling: I would emphasize the rhythmic language of the tale and the individual personalities of the creatures Ananse captures with voice characterizations.

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