Monday, April 21, 2008

Anansi the Spider

Anansi the Spider
adapted and illustrated by Gerald McDermott/ published 1972 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston

Adapted from an animated film by the author, Anasi is a mythic African folktale. The prologue reads... Anansi is "the folk-hero to the Ashanti. This funny fellow is a rogue, a wise and loveable trickster. He is a shrewd and cunning figure who triumphs over larger foes. An animal with human qualities, Anasi is a mischief maker." According to the Wiki, the tar baby story from Uncle Remus was a retelling of an Anansi fable.

In this case, Anansi is a spider, and he gets into one unfortunate mishap after another, only to be saved by his six sons who each have an exceptional power -- not unlike The Five Chinese Brothers. (Isn't it cool how folktales from all over often have the same themes, leading us back to the time when we were all one?) In the end, it becomes a tale of how the moon came to be.

And so they tried to decide which son deserved the prize.
They tried, but they could not decide. They argued all night.
Nyame saw this.
The God of All Things,
he took the beautiful white light up into the sky.
He keeps it there for all to see.
It is still there.
It will always be there.
It is there tonight.

The book received a Caledecott honor, and the illustrations are bright with simple line drawings that even small kids will be into. I mean, who can resist a wacky spider stirring up all kinds of trouble? That's totally my kind of fun! Since there was a full moon this weekend, (and my son flips for what he calls "my friend the moon"), it is only fitting to tip my hat to this tale today. (Also, '72 was THE best year, no? wink wink;)


  1. this is a wonderful book I remember reading in gradeschool!

  2. I believe I've seen the animated production, and I'm pretty sure Denzel Washington (love him)narrated's a clever story!

  3. Anasi is a song by Raffi, I believe. It is about a funny spider.

  4. That would be the one. Raffi isn't in rotation at our house yet, but I'll have to check it out!

  5. I LOVE your site.
    Is it really Anasi and not Anansi, or are both acceptable?

  6. Absolutely right about the name. I think it does go either way, but in this case, my title was a typo.