A Story A Story
Retold and Illustrated by Gail E. Haley
I thought that this was a great story. I also read this one as a young girl, and remember being amazed at how Ananse completed the tasks. The story starts out with a short introduction page about how this is the story about how the “Spider Stories” came about. The main character, Ananse, has survived through time as “Anancy” in the Caribbean and “Aunt Nancy” in the USA. It says that the “Spider Stories” are African legends about how small, defenseless men or animals outwit others and overcome great odds. The story begins with a weak, old man (Ananse) who gets all of the stories from the Sky God, because there are no stories on Earth. Ananse spins a web and climbs up to the Sky God to ask how he can get the stories. The Sky God laughs at Ananse, and tells him if he completes 3 seemingly impossible tasks, he can have the golden box of stories. Ananse wittily completes the tasks, and presents them and himself to the Sky God, who gives Ananse the box of stories. And the book ends by saying that Ananse returned to earth and opens the box; stories scatter to all the corners of the earth, including this story, and this is how we have stories to tell today.
This book has lots of tricky words in it, so for a young or beginning reader, it could be a little bit overwhelming. It is a fascinating book though, and the pictures are beautiful. This would be a great book to read when introducing a new culture or a new social studies unit. There are lots pictures of traditional African clothing, villages and pottery. It also mentions several African legends, which may or may not be true. There are lots of activities students could do after reading this book that would be fun for them. In the book, Ananse completes three seemingly impossible tasks; students could brainstorm and come up with more seemingly impossible tasks that could be either added to the book, or grouped together to create another Ananse story. It also brings up the idea of a legend, or an explanation for something. This story tells about why we have stories to read today. Students could write about another way we might have brought stories to the earth, or they could make up a legend about something else, like why we have trees, or why we live in houses, or why we drive cars, or why the sun shines on us everyday. There are lots of different things children could make up explanations for. These would be great ways for kids to use their creativity to write stories that could be brought all the way through the writing/publishing process.