WHY MOSQUITOES BUZZ IN PEOPLE'S EARS
By Verna Aardema
Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dilllon
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 32 pages
THIS West African folktale unfolds at a leisurely pace, and packs in a wealth of detail, in its text and pictures, about the animals it describes. A mosquito so irritates an iguana with her silly story that he blocks her out by stuffing two sticks in his ears. When python calls out to his friend, iguana doesn't respond as he can't hear. This sets off a chain of events that leads to the owl not waking up the sun and leaving the world in darkness.
I love Aardema's use of onomatopaiea: off goes the iguana "mek mek"; "wasuwusu" goes the snake through the grass; the rabbit scurries away "krik, krik, krik". The pictures look like a vibrant batik painting. In one spread, python is drawn with a head at each end of his body - to cleverly show how he moves from one situation to the next in the story.
In the end, when mosquito is revealed as the trouble-maker, owl is satisfied and wakes the sun. But mosquito hides and goes unpunished. Still, she continues, to this day, to to whisper guiltily in ears. "Zeee! Is everyone still angry with me?" she asks and we all know how she's answered!