Books, Geography

Perfect Picture Book Friday: THE HATSELLER AND THE MONKEYS

Author/Illustrator: Baba Wague Diakite
Publication Info: Scholastic Press, 1999
ISBN: 978-0590960694
Source: Library
Intended audience: ages 4 and up
Genre: picture book (fiction)
Themes/topics: folk tales, fables, Mali, monkeys, cleverness, tricksters
Opening and synopsis: ”BaMusa the hatseller was a joyful man. He traveled from town to town selling hats, which he piled high on his head.”
Eager to sell hats at the festival, BaMusa sets off without breakfast. Tired and hungry, he lies down for a nap, and clever monkeys steal his hats. BaMusa must figure out how to get them back.
Why I like this book: CAPS FOR SALE by Esphyr Slobodkina is a family favorite. I had no idea that its source was a folk tale that is told in many countries, including Mali. This is the same story set in Mali and illustrated with beautiful ceramic-tile paintings. I also appreciate that this telling of the story emphasizes that BaMusa had not eaten breakfast, so he didn’t have energy and couldn’t think clearly. He can only figure out what to do after he’s eaten. My favorite quote from the book is, “It is with a full stomach that one thinks best.”
Resources/activities: 
  • Diakite includes and author’s note with the history of the folktale, as well as a list of other versions of this tale, including CAPS FOR SALE.
  • Reading to Kids has discussion ideas and a couple of craft suggestions, including making hats or drawing a picture of a saying your mom says.
  • A full lesson plan, including step-by-step hat-making instructions, are at Easy Literacy.
  • Children can learn more about Mali on National Geographic’s site.

Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.