Cover image for Clever Tortoise : a traditional African tale
Clever Tortoise : a traditional African tale
Martin, Francesca.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
32 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 24 cm
Clever Tortoise leads the other jungle animals in teaching bullying Elephant and Hippopotamus a lesson by tricking them into engaging in a tug of war with each other.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.7 0.5 54906.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Clarence Library PZ8.1.M368 CL 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
Clearfield Library PZ8.1.M368 CL 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
Lancaster Library PZ8.1.M368 CL 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
Orchard Park Library PZ8.1.M368 CL 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Audubon Library PZ8.1.M368 CL 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales

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Clever Tortoise cuts a couple of bullies down to size in this traditional African folktale. Elephant and Hippo are bullies. Big, strong, and selfish, the two friends boss and frighten all the other animals in the jungle, making life in their formerly harmonious community unbearable. But one day, Clever Tortoise calmly declares that size and strength aren't everything. Soon he proves it, hatching a plan to outwit the two tyrants with the tug-of-war to end all tugs-of-war. Who will be left standing when Tortoise's ingenious contest is over? Francesca Martin's spirited adaptation of a traditional African folk story-complete with a glossary of African words-and her rich illustrations will have kids cheering as wit and quiet wisdom triumph over brute strength.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 2^-3, younger for reading aloud. Tortoise outsmarts the bullies in this beautifully illustrated East African folktale. In the first spread, animals mingle peacefully on the banks of Lake Nyasa, but there was quarreling before the calm. Because strong Hippopotamus and Elephant threaten the smaller animals, Tortoise devises a plan: he challenges the behemoths to a tug-of-war. The bullies scoff and agree, but Tortoise tricks them by giving one end of the rope (woven by the animals in a lovely, industrious nighttime scene) to the Elephant and the other to the Hippopotamus, hiding the opponents from each other in the grasses. The bullies strain and pull, each believing that it's Tortoise on the other end. Finally, Tortoise cuts the rope, declaring himself the winner, and peace is restored. With its appealing repetition and sound effects, the simple, sometimes poetic text is well-suited for reading aloud, but the exquisite details in the glittering, soft-edged illustrations make the book a better choice for solo reading and lap sharing. Occasional Kiswahili words are defined in text or in the introductory glossary. --Gillian Engberg

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2-The animals living on the banks of Lake Nyasa in Africa are happy and content until Elephant and Hippopotamus literally start throwing their weight around, frightening and bullying the smaller denizens. Tortoise comes up with a successful scheme to put the two in their place, proving that a small creature's brain can overcome a larger animal's brawn. Martin tells her story in rhythmic, deceptively simple sentences, punctuated with sounds and Kiswahili words that extend the story. The narrative cries to be read aloud. The textured watercolor paintings are rendered in colors at once vibrant and muted, and packed with fascinating, expressive details. Especially appealing is the parade of the animals across the title page with their Kiswahili names above them. Attractive decorative borders line the top and bottom margins. The source note is more personal than scholarly, although it does place the story's roots in Tanzania. This title has enormous storytime and classroom potential and is bound to make a splash with youngsters.-Donna L. Scanlon, Lancaster Area Library, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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