Thursday, November 1, 2007

Why Mosquitos Buzz in People's Ears

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale
Verna Aardema with pictures by Leo and Diane Dillon/ published 1975 by Dial Books

The buzz book was pretty iconic of my childhood. In my mind, I always envisioned it as this sophisticated tome; now not really sure why, but the African motif must have made it seem exotic to me. The theme of the dead baby owl and the revengeful mother is pretty intense and shows how a few misplaced words of boast can lead to terrible things occurring. I've always loved how folk tales build an extraordinary explanation for something every day and mundane.

Because of this the mosquito has a guilty conscience.
To this day she goes about whining in people's ears:
"Zee! Is everyone still angry at me?"
When she does that, she gets an honest answer.

The mosquito's rascally beady eyes are so hilarious. You almost hate the character on site. The Dillons have a way with bringing characters to life on the page and actually won two consecutive Caldecott Awards; one for this in '76 and one for Ashanti To Zulu in '77.

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