Written by Verna Aardema, Illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon
Children’s Picture Book: K-6
Stars: 4.5 (out of 5)
Summary: In this West African tale, a mosquito tells an iguana an absolutely and ridiculous story/rumor that leads to a series of unfortunate events. In the end, all of the misfortunes can be traced back to the mosquito, who ultimately loses all of his friends.
First, I must say that the illustrations in this book are absolutely exquisite. The style is very unique, combining bright, bold colors and geometric shapes in a style that borders surrealism. The illustrations add an immense amount of interest to the written story and are very eye catching. No wonder this book won a Caldecott Award! In terms of the story, it is a West African tale that is a bit like a folk tale. The folk tale involves the progression of an event that has lead the mosquito to be a creature that buzzes in people’s ears. An important aspect about this book that I must mention is the repetativeness of the lines. On each page, an additional event is added to the ones prior to it. Thus, each event is repeated over and over again, which can be fun for students. For emerging readers, this is a great book to elicit participation and enhance the belief that they can “read.” At the same time, it is a great book for even older children, for the message is an important one.
This story conveys an important message to students: rumors can cause great problems and have great consequences for the person who has started the rumor. This is a very important message to teach students, one that can be brought up in many situations. It can be simply introduced to the classroom in isolation. It can also be brought up after “rumor events” have been taking place in the classroom, in hopes to assuage such issues. Ultimately though, it is simply a book that is fun to listen to. I could definitely see myself using it in a classroom of older elementary aged children, by acting out the events of the story and encouraging the entire class of students to become involved in the action and presentation of the story. In such a situation, it would be fun to “play” this story for a group of younger elementary students and then have the older students lead a discussion about the problems associated with rumors. It would be an interesting way to get the older students involved with those who are younger, and provide an opportunity to act as experts and teachers. Regardless of the way that I choose to use this book in my classroom, one thing is for sure, I am definitely going to use it!