Cover image for The magic gourd
The magic gourd
Diakité, Baba Wagué.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
32 pages : color illustrations ; 30 cm
Brother Rabbit and Chameleon teach a greedy king the importance of generosity and friendship.
Reading Level:
440 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.4 0.5 68822.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.2 2 Quiz: 32417 Guided reading level: M.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1.D564 MAG 2003 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.1.D564 MAG 2003 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.1.D564 MAG 2003 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.1.D564 MAG 2003 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Draught and famine have come to the parched forest. And when a hungry Rabbit rescues Brother Chameleon from a thorny bush, Chameleon repays him tenfold with a magical gourd that always stays filled with food and water. But soon a greedy king steals the gourd to make gold and food for himself. Cleverly, Rabbit recovers his gourd, but still leaves plenty for the King. Surprised by Rabbit's kind act, the king begins to learn the importance of generosity and friendship. Exciting illustrations in bright ceramic plates, bowls and sculpture practically dance off of the pages

Author Notes

Born in 1961 in Mali, West Africa, Baba Wagu#65533; Diakit#65533; was named "Wagu#65533;," or "Man of Trust," after his grandfather. "I grew up in a storytelling family," Diakit#65533; remembers. "Even after my Western education in a French school, my basic understanding of life is still from this traditional education of mankind that my grandparents taught me...Without stories, there is no art." Though always artistically inclined, he didn't begin the ceramic work for which he is known until after he moved to the U.S. in 1985. Diakit#65533;'s work has been in shows in New York, California, Texas, and Oregon. His first picture book, a retelling of one of his grandmother's fables called The Hunterman and the Crocodile, was named a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Diakit#65533; teamed up with his daughter Penda, who was 12 at the time, to publish I Lost My Tooth in Africa, a warm family story about the African tooth fairy. Penda was inspired to write this story about her little sister after they returned from visiting their family in Mali. The Diakit#65533; family divides their time between Portland, Oregon, and Bamako, Mali. For more information about Baba Wagu#65533; Diakit#65533;, visit:

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2^-4, younger for reading aloud. With characteristic energy and spirit, Diakiteretells a tale from his native Mali and illustrates it with painted, boldly patterned art created from ceramics. Searching for food for his famine-stricken family, Brother Rabbit pauses to free a chameleon from a thorn bush, and, in return, receives a magic bowl that fills with anything upon request. After a greedy king seizes the bowl, Chameleon gives Rabbit another gift--a rock that wreaks havoc on anyone who does not speak to it with respect. Rabbit uses the rock to regain his prize--and by choosing to leave the royal treasure behind, is able to reform the king. Bordering each ceramic design is a different "mud cloth" textile pattern, the meaning of which the artist explains in a lengthy postscript. Diakitecloses with a discussion of the story's themes and antecedents, an introduction to praise songs, and a glossary of the Bambara exclamations and expressions that punctuate the story. Despite the pounding rock, this is less violent than many European variants of the tale; it actually focuses more on kindness than on trickery. --John Peters

Publisher's Weekly Review

Malian folklore springs to life in the exquisitely painted ceramics that have become Diakit's (The Hatseller and the Monkeys) illustrative trademark. Set against solid color fields, his bold pottery extends an energizing magic to a traditional African tale of an enchanted gourd. The gourd, which fills with whatever its owner desires, is a gift to Brother Rabbit for his altruism in freeing Chameleon from a thorny bush. Rabbit uses the magic vessel to feed his hungry family and the rest of his impoverished village. Here, several photographs of ceramic bowls, all with intricate black-and-white exterior designs, break up the text. Viewed from different angles, the interiors of the bowls change to match the text: at first readers see the faces of Rabbit's family reflected as they peer inside; elsewhere, the interior is painted with carrots and then with water. The story plays out on plates and tiles in impressively detailed paintings. Deepening the impact of the illustrations, traditional Malian mud cloth patterns border the ceramics. Extensive endnotes explain each motif's meaning, define the text's many Malian sayings and words, illuminate the cultural context and identify the tale's folkloric "cousins" around the world. A visually invigorating work. Ages 5-8. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-3-Diakite sets his story in his native Mali. After Dogo Zan the rabbit saves a chameleon from a sticky situation, he is given a magic gourd that fills with whatever its owner wishes in payment for his kindness. When the greedy king learns about its magic powers, he takes the gourd by force. Using another gift from the chameleon, Dogo Zan recovers his treasure and teaches a lesson in generosity as well. Diakit illustrates this tale with paintings on ceramic tiles, plates and bowls, and borders with designs from Bamana mud cloth patterns, which are imbued with their own symbolism. The resultant images, set against color-saturated backgrounds, are often arresting. The end matter includes lyrics to a praise song that illustrates the importance of spiritual wealth over material possessions, a description of pertinent aspects of the author's childhood, an explanation of the mud cloth designs, and a note about the widespread dissemination of stories with similar plot motifs. Overall, this is an attractive folktale variant.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.