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Africa - unspecified

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Africa – Country Unspecified


Aardema, Verna. 1989. Rabbit makes a monkey of lion. Illustrations by Jerry Pinkney. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.


Rating: ♥♥♥♥ (out of  ♥♥♥♥♥). (Picture from


Summary:  A rabbit and his friends trick a lion out of honey two times, and the rabbit keeps the lion from catching him with a third trick.  Both decide to leave each other alone after the experience.


Type:  beast tale


Characters:  Rabbit and lion are one-dimensional, fairly stereotypic characters. Rabbit is fast, greedy, and clever. Lion is large, powerful, ferocious, and easily tricked, leading readers to believe he is not overly bright.


Setting:  The setting is not specified. The audience knows the tale takes place in a jungle long ago “when monkey was considered the most foolish” (pages not numbered). Readers assume the setting is Africa because of the lion, the honey guide, the landscape, and the vegetation.


Plot:  The plot is a variation of the familiar beast /trickster tale. The larger animal gets tricked three times by the smaller animal and his friends. The larger animal learns that it is too much work to tangle with the smaller animal. The smaller animal also learns to be more careful and to have more respect for the larger animal.


Theme:  Similar to many trickster tales, the theme seems to be that the weak can outwit the strong through cleverness. This could apply to creatures or humans.


Rating Considerations: This is an interesting, humorous tale, particularly the part when the rabbit talks to his “house.”  The predictability of this tale keeps it from being outstanding, but it is very good.


Illustrations:  Using “pencil, colored pencils, and watercolor,” Jerry Pinkney creates lush, colorful illustrations that keep the reader’s interest and showcase the landscape of Africa (forward). The creatures reveal many facial expressions that make them look almost human. Lion is a strong, fearsome presence until the end of the story, when he wears an expression of meditative acceptance.