Cover image for How the guinea fowl got her spots : a Swahili tale of friendship
How the guinea fowl got her spots : a Swahili tale of friendship
Knutson, Barbara.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Minneapolis : Carolrhoda Books, [1990]

Physical Description:
32 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 27 cm
A folk explanation for the guinea fowl's protective coloration that enables it to hide from its natural predator, the lion.
Reading Level:
AD 730 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.6 0.5 4224.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.1 2 Quiz: 05444 Guided reading level: J.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1.K728 HO 1990 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PZ8.1.K728 HO 1990 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The Guinea Fowl and Cow are best friends. Both of them keep an eye out for Lion. When Lion threatens, each must intervene to save the other. Beautiful watercolors transform this tale into a visual delight.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Ages 5-7. Featuring watercolor and India ink on scratchboard, this East African creation story echoes the tradition of African scratch art. Bold, oversized letters in India ink begin the text on each page, and the contrast of the ink designs and white space lends accessibility to this lov~ingly told story. Each day while Nganga the Guinea Fowl and her friend Cow visit the delicious green hills to eat, Hungry Lion stalks his dinner. Nganga, a devoted and clever friend, twice scares Lion away and saves Cow from being eaten. To return the favor and help Nganga escape Lion's wrath, Cow dips her tail in milk and shakes it over the "glossy black" Nganga, speckling her with white spots. Lion doesn't recognize Nganga at their next meeting, and when he returns to devour the unfamiliar bird, the new suit of spots camouflages her. A playful story of a loyal little friend who defends her big friend from the king of beasts. --Kathryn ~LaBarbera

School Library Journal Review

In this traditional Swahili folktale, Guinea Fowl twice saves her friend Cow from Lion. In return, Cow sprinkles milk over the formerly all-black guinea fowl, disguising her from the lion and allowing her to easily hide in the grasses. Guinea Fowl is almost foolhardy in her brave and loving attempts at protecting her friend; Cow expresses her concern on a more intellectual level. Tales that value friendship are easy to promote, especially when the characters express their caring in both thought and deed. Equally enjoyable are Knutson's scratchboard illustrations, which perfectly match the content and tone of the story. Although heavy black lines dominate the stark white pages, watercolor highlights add visual interest while retaining a primitive and earthy feel. The placement of the drawings and the exquisite design create a harmony that makes this a strikingly handsome addition to folktale collections. --Regina Pauly, Burlington County Library, Mt. Holly, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.