Cover image for Sense Pass King : a story from Cameroon
Sense Pass King : a story from Cameroon
Tchana, Katrin.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Holiday House, [2002]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 24 x 27 cm
Despite a jealous king's repeated attempts to get rid of her, Ma'antah continually manages to outwit him and proves herself worthy of the name Sense Pass King.
Reading Level:
AD 510 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.3 0.5 62782.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.3 2 Quiz: 33350 Guided reading level: N.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1.T19 SD 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PZ8.1.T19 SD 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales

On Order



An extraordinary child determines a kingdom's future.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

PreS.^-Gr. 2. A wise, brave child outwits the silly powerful king in this lively West African folktale. Tchana first heard the story from her husband, who heard it when he was growing up in Cameroon. In the original, the child is a boy, but Tchana makes her a girl. Ma'antah is a prodigy, who, from the age of two, can speak the languages of all seven villages and communicate with animals. Soon the people call her Sense Pass King because she is cleverer even than their ruler. He tries to destroy her, but she escapes all his traps, and eventually the people drive him away, make Ma'antah their leader, and live in peace and prosperity. The triumph of the small, smart hero over stupid authority has elemental child appeal, and Hyman's sunlit acrylic double-paged paintings capture the traditional village setting and the individual people in clear, glowing detail. Always at the center is the proud, sturdy girl, who confronts a seven-headed fiery monster with the same wit and courage that she uses to defeat the jealous despot. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

The mother-daughter collaborators behind The Serpent Slayer and Other Stories of Strong Women team up for another successful retelling, this time substituting a gifted girl for the customary boy who outwits his royal ruler. Ma'antah could "speak the languages of all seven villages and communicate with animals" by age two, and soon poses a threat to the king's ego. Tchana hits just the right notes as a storyteller; she gives enough details to set the scene, and her smooth pacing will keep readers on the edge of their seats, wondering how the heroine will outsmart the king next. Hyman's artwork suggests the African heat layers of gold silhouettes of trees and straw-colored huts on stilts with palm-frond rooftops are artfully set off by geometrically patterned fabrics in citrus tones. The paintings add another layer to the narrative; for instance, when the king first attempts to kill Ma'antah, he tells his soldiers to leave her in the heart of the forest where "the panthers and the snakes will take care of her." Tchana explains that the girl fills a sack with ashes and pokes a hole in it so she can find her way home, and Hyman's illustration picks up on her ability to talk to the animals, depicting Ma'antah astride a panther, with the snakes accompanying her safely out of the woods. Lots of action and smart thinking make this a winner for children, and adults will find here a welcome alternative to trickster tales, where intelligence is often associated with deviousness. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-In this retelling of a traditional tale, young Ma'antah displays such extraordinary cleverness that she earns the nickname, Sense Pass King. The jealous monarch makes repeated attempts to dispose of the child, but ultimately brings her to live in his palace. When he falsely takes credit for slaying a seven-headed sea lizard and saving his future bride, feats accomplished by the pint-sized servant, the villagers have had enough of his dishonesty and cowardice. They drive him out of the kingdom, crown Sense Pass King queen, and all live happily ever after. Children will delight in the youngster's ability to outsmart grown-ups and find her way out of seemingly impossible predicaments. Expansive spreads of lush acrylic artwork are filled with humorous and, at times, magical details. In the final scene, Queen Ma'antah rubs the head of a panther with a snake perched on its back, while a curious audience of lizards, monkeys, and people look on in wonder. Such fantastic images and a clever story line make this a satisfying addition to folklore collections.-Ajokei T. I. Kokodoko, Oakland Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.