Ashley Bryan says, "My mother had a proverb for any situation, attitude, or event." Many of us have had the same experience. But have you ever heard, "As a crab walks, so walk its children" or "A log may lie in the water for ten years, but it will never become a crocodile"? These are two of the twenty-six African proverbs Ashley Bryan has chosen to illustrate in this book. Having grown up with proverbs, it was no surprise to Mr. Bryan when he began reading African literature to find African proverbs along with African stories. The proverbs grew out of the lives and experiences of the varied African peoples. Each proverb here is credited to a specific tribe, yet, as Ashley Bryan explains, most were known in other tribes as well. And in fact, all are true for people everywhere. We may not see crabs often, but we understand about crab children, and even people who do not have crocodiles nearby know that they do not begin as logs. This is a book to treasure for its rich universal wisdom and its gloriously evocative illustrations.
Ashley Bryan grew up to the sound of his mother singing from morning to night, and he has shared the joy of song with children ever since. A beloved illustrator, he was recently named a Newbery Honoree for his picture book, Freedom Over Me. He has also been the recipient of the Coretta Scott King—Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award; the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award; has been a May Hill Arbuthnot lecturer; a Coretta Scott King Award winner; and the recipient of countless other awards and recognitions. His books include Freedom Over Me; Sail Away; Beautiful Blackbird; Beat the Story-Drum, Pum Pum; Let It Shine; Ashley Bryan’s Book of Puppets; and What a Wonderful World. He lives in Islesford, one of the Cranberry Isles off the coast of Maine.