Gathered here is a beguiling selection of folktales from Zimbabwe and Botswana as retold by the best-selling author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. This treasury contains most of the stories previously collected in Children of Wax and seven new tales from the Setswana-speaking people of Botswana.
A girl discovers that her young husband might actually be a lion in disguise, but not before they have two sons who might actually be cubs . . . When a child made of wax follows his curiosity outside into the heat of daylight and melts, his siblings shape him into a bird with feathers made of leaves that enable him to fly into the light . . . Talking hyenas, milk-giving birds, clever cannibals who nonetheless get their comeuppance, and mysterious forces that reside in the landscape—these wonderful fables bring us the wealth, the variety, and the particular magic of traditional African lore.
From the Hardcover edition.
Straying from the safety net of a bestselling series (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, etc.), Smith tells 40 traditional African folk tales with his by now signature humor, simplicity and reverence for African culture. With an introductory letter from No. 1 Lady Detective Mma Ramotswe as a preface, he sets the literary stage for a nostalgic stroll down his own personal memory lane. Born and raised in what is now Zimbabwe, Smith began collecting these stories as a child and combines them with several he gleaned from a friend who interviewed natives of Botswana. Many of the stories parallel classic Western tales, from Aesop to Mother Goose. The ubiquitous wolf-in-sheep's-clothing fable becomes a parable about a girl who unwittingly marries a lion. Other stories deal with familiar themes ranging from ingratitude (in "Head Tree," a man cured of a tree growing out of his head does not pay the charm woman her due) to vanity (in "Greater Than Lion," a hare outwits a conceited and boastful lion). However, many are uniquely African, such as the stories that explain why the elephant and hyena live far from people or how baboons became so lazy. These are pithy, engaging tales, as habit-forming as peanuts. . This expanded volume arrives just in time for Christmas and should delight fans of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and the first installment in Smith's new series, The Sunday Philosophy Club.