Anansi's narrow waist : an African folk tale / retold by Len Cabral ; illustrated by David Diaz.


This is the African story of why spiders have eight legs and narrow waists. At the beginning of the story, Anansi the spider has a round body and no legs. He visits some people who invite him to have yams with them. The yams are not yet cooked and Anansi is impatient. He ties a string around his waist and tells the people to tug on the string when the yams are done. He walks until he finds more people with more food. Again, he ties another string around his waist and tells the people to tug on the string when the food is ready. He repeats this pattern until he has eight strings around his waist. All the food is ready at the same time. The strings tighten and they snap together, giving Anansi eight legs and a narrow waist.Diaz uses woodcuts to create bright, colourful illustrations surrounded by a patterned border. Pictures often span over two pages, although there are several one-page illustrations near the end of the story. I personally found the early pictures of Anansi to be rather strange. I wondered how Anansi moved through the jungle with only a head, torso, and no legs.This book measures 6” by 6.75” and children will like its small size. It is Level 3 of the “Let Me Read Series,” meaning that it would most likely interest children aged 4 to 7. It is a ‘reader,’ and as such has a higher proportion of sight words than other picture books. As well, the same words are repeated throughout the book, allowing children to frequently practice reading these words.

Reading Levels

Ages 6 - 7 / Grades 1 - 2

Publication History