Anansi and the Talking Melon / Kimmel, Eric A.



This West African tale, which is also familiar in Caribbean culture, uses the motif of the animal that gets trapped after eating too much. Anansi the Spider chips a hole into one of Elephant’s melons and climbs inside. He eats as much as he can and then wants to leave, but he cannot get his rotund body through the small hole. He decides that he must wait until he is thin again to escape, but he soon gets bored and decides to causes some mischief. When Elephant returns to the melon field, Anansi pretends to be a talking melon. Elephant is surprised and delighted and takes the talking melon to the king. Along the way, Elephant meets other animals that, like him, do not believe that the melon can talk before they hear it for themselves. Once the animals get to the king, Anansi insults the king, causing him to hurl the melon back to the melon patch. Anansi escapes unharmed and Elephant vows to never listen to talking melons again. This is one of the few Anansi stories that I have read in which Anansi gets the finally laugh in the end and is not punished for his trickery. Stevens creates bright, colourful, humorous illustrations with what appears to be watercolour and acrylic paints. She uses a combination of spot, one-page, one-and-one-half page, and two-page illustrations, and alternately sets the text within the illustration or within white space near the illustration. I especially liked the two-page spread that contained four spot illustrations of the king and the melon. These pages showed the changing attitude of the king towards the melon from surprise, to curiosity, to impatient, to anger.Children will like the repetitive pattern of Kimmel's text. The publisher assigns an interest level of ages four to eight for this book, and I think it could be read independently by a good grade 1 reader.


African folktales

Reading Levels

Ages 6 - 8 / Grades 1 - 3

Publication History