Thursday, 19 April 2018

Fairy Tale Friday—Pretty Salma (Africa)

Hello and welcome to Fairy tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.

Last week we looked at a fragment of a Swedish song where a wolf attacks and murders a young lady on her trip through the dark woods. It was a hoot and a half, let me tell you. For the next four weeks, I want to explore Red Riding Hood variations from other countries or cultures.

This week I begin with an illustrated picture book entitled Pretty Salma by renowned South African author and illustrator Niki Daly who is responsible for some greats books such as Not So Fast, Songololo, Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky and the Jamela series. 

On an interesting note, Spiderman and I were both gobsmacked to find out that Niki Daly is a man. Niki is short for Nicholas. All the time that we have been enjoying books by Niki Daly we have pictured a female author and illustrator, so this was an interesting bit of trivia for us.

 I have liked books by Niki Daly because as it says on his biographical page, “Daly looks at the day-to-day interactions of the myths that shape black South African reality.”

Bright Star Bedtime Stories says his strength is, “His ability to see the world from a child’s perspective and see the world in a rainbow of shades, reflective of multicultural modern South Africa.”
Image result for niki daly pretty salma
This Red Riding Hood tale, set in contemporary, urban Ghana, features a more traditional costume than a red riding hood. Here, Salma wears her blue scarf and stripy ntama (wrap around skirt) as well as white beads and sandals. Instead of a wolf, she meets Mr Dog who managed to talk the poor, innocent child into giving up her clothing, her basket of goodies and even her song in order to fool Granny. This reminded me a bit of the tigers who steal the clothes of Little Black Sambo or the updated with less racist illustrations, Sam and the Tigers.

I like that it follows the traditional European formula of trickster animal and innocent girl helping her granny but manages to infuse it with real picture of African culture. Yes, there may be some people like Salma going to market with a basket on her head, but there are also people driving cars. It just shows you a more realistic Ghana rather than a stereotypical, primitive one. Daly also does this well in Not So Fast, Songololo where the young boy and his grandmother catch a bus into the city and go shoe shopping. In the 80’s when this book was published I was always told that Africa was so primitive that they all lived in mud huts, not cities with busses and shops.

It also ends with some uniquely African imagery with masks and theatrics (which reminded me greatly of Who’s In Rabbit’s House by Verna Aardema and beautifully illustrated by Diane and Leo Dillon) and I was excited to see grandfather in his Anansi the Spider man costume.

I have found a video where someone performs the story while showing the pictures. It is a delightful tale and worth watching. The sound is a bit low, so turn your volume up to 11. (if you know what I mean!)

I really liked that it mirrored the European tradition of “What big somethings you have!” but was completely bothered by the fact that it is only after she see Mr Dog’s tail that she becomes concerned that scrawny, hairy Mr Dog is not her beautiful granddaughter.

I would like to think that my mum could tell me apart from her many dogs. But maybe not.

That’s all for this week, stay tuned next week for a tale from Louisiana.

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