"The Stranger-man (and he was a Tewara) thought, 'This is a very,very, very wonderful child. The shark's tooth on my necklace is a magic shark's tooth, and I was always told that if anybody touched it without my leave they would immediately swell up or burst, but this child doesn't swell up or burst, and that important Chief, Man-who-attends-strictly-to-his-business, who has not yet taken any notice of me at all, doesn't seem to be afraid that she will swell up or burst. I had better be more polite.'"
This is a collection of children's stories. It is one of my favorite children's books, both because of the gorgeous writing that begs to be read aloud, and for its illustrations, done by Barry Moser.
One of the best things about this book, is the way all the stories tie in so well with the real world. As a child, I thought the explanations of how things began were plausible.
My favorite stories:
How the Camel got his Hump:
The camel didn't want to work, and when he was asked he only said, "Humph". Until a Dijin gives him a hump and sentences him to work three times harder than all the other animals.
The Elephant's Child:
The Elephant's Child was filled with 'satiable curiosity about the crocodile, but no one will tell him what the crocodile has for dinner. So, he journeys down to the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees to see for himself.
How the first letter was written:
Taffy and her father go fishing, and Taffy's daddy breaks his spear. So, when Taffy meets a Stranger-man, (who was a Tewara) she sends him after he daddy's great black handled-spear, and causing a mild catastrophe for the tribe of Tegumai. (And for the stranger-man who is sat upon by the Neolithic ladies in a long line of six.)
The Butterfly that Stamped:
Mr. Butterfly is trying to make his wife listen to him and tells her that he is to be feared, as with one stamp he could make all of Suleiman-bin-Daoud's palace disappear. When Suleiman hears this, he calls the Dijins to make his place disappear when the butterfly stamps, and they both teach their wives a lesson.