Select Page
The Book of Griot by Alexander Junior

The Book of Griot: A Collection of African Folktales

Aug 30, 2020

Rating: 4
While this book sure was light and fun, it just didn't feel like it hit the YA mark and felt a bit like a children's book. However, it was a great collection with diversity of styles, lengths, and morals.

Taking a step away from the usual slice-of-life or fantasy novel or inspiring nonfiction resource, folktales are a wonderful genre of their own. Typically full of symbolism, life lessons, and interesting characters, folktales are today’s reminders of our world’s rich cultures. But as we become more digitally centered, many of these previously common verbally-told stories have begun to be forgotten.

In Africa, there is no shortage of these intriguing, entertaining, and even educational stories. That brings us to “Book of Griot: A Collection of African Folktales.” Inside this relatively short book lives a compilation of 15 unique and curious tales, organized by their origin: southern, eastern, and three unspecified ones.

While all different in lesson, characters, and length, they are all interesting in their own ways. From Why the Heron has a Crooked Neck (about Tante the Dove, Oom Jakhals (the Jackal) and Oom Reijer — the Heron), to The Ape, the Snake, and the Lion (about, you guessed it, an Ape, Snake, and Lion, as well as a poor boy named MvooLaana).

Many of the stories involve talking animals that lived among people long, long ago. Sometimes the stories are about human behavior, animal behavior, or life lessons told through interactions between animals or people. Although they’re individually quite short, their meanings are relevant to this day. And while they are all translated into English, the names of animals, places, people, and even foods or plants are all transliterated (written in English but still pronounced like their native language). Thanks to this, these stories can now be shared more globally and be preserved for generations to come.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The tales were entertaining, and it was nice to step out of my comfort zone and read something completely different for a change. By nature, the stories did sometimes feel a bit childish, but for the most part they were still interesting and entertaining. And the author did a good job collecting a wide variety of unique folktales, which I appreciated.

I recommend this to anyone interested in the genre or if you’re simply looking for a light, but entertaining read.

More Reviews

The Black Friend: On Being A Better White Person

The Black Friend: On Being A Better White Person

2020 has been hard for all Americans, but Black people have been especially disproportionately affected. Police brutality, systematic racism, and racial microaggressions in everyday life only scratches the surface of the traumas Black Americans are (and have been)...

The Way Back

The Way Back

Guys, girls, and everyone in between and all around, allow me to introduce you to “The Way Back.” Set mainly in the tiny shtetl of Tupik, Russia, two generations after 1812, this book is inarguably the best I’ve ever read. And that’s not an exaggeration. Written...

Blazewrath Games

Blazewrath Games

In honor of Latin Heritage Month we decided to review a book by a Latinx author. For this, we chose Amparo Ortiz’s “Blazewrath Games.” Unfortunately, it didn’t really live up to its Hunger-Games-meets-Harry-Potter potential. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but there was a...