Name of Book: Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock
Author: retold by Eric A. Kimmel
Illustrator: Janet Stevens
Publisher: Holliday House, New York
Audience: Ages 5-8
Summary: Anansi is a master trickster. Although Eric Kimmel does not identify the source of this story, such tales are found in West Africa and in the Caribbean. In this tale, Anansi the Spider is walking through the forest when he finds a strange, moss-covered rock. After commenting on the rock, Anansi falls down senseless. After an hour he wakes up. While trying to discover what had happened, he repeats the phrase “Isn’t this a strange moss-covered rock?” and again falls down senseless. Upon awaking, he realizes what happened and how to use this knowledge to trick others. He uses his knowledge to trick all the animals so that he could steal their food. While all this is happening, Little Bush Deer is watching from the sidelines. Little Bush Deer has a plan to turn the tables on Anansi and get the animals’ food returned to the rightful owners.
Literary Elements at work in the story: Young children will enjoy the repetitive elements in the story and finding Little Bush Deer peering out from behind the plants in the illustrations. The illustrations are bright and colorful to keep the interest of the reader. The animals are drawn realistically but do have human expressions and human possessions such as front porches, ceiling fans, lounge chairs, etc.
Perspective on gender/race/culture/economic/ability: Anansi is described as lazy (“too lazy to dig [yams]/pick [bananas]/gather [coconuts] himself.” The implication is that he is capable of doing the work but would rather not do hard labor.
Scripture: Any of the stories in Genesis involving Jacob tricking Esau; Jacob tricking Isaac; Laban tricking Jacob
Theology: Living in community, Respect for others
Faith Talk Questions:
- Why do some people play tricks on others?
- Why did Anansi steal food from the other animals?
- How do you think the other animals felt about Anansi? Why?
- Is it ever all right to trick people? How do people feel when they have been tricked? If possible, tell about a time when someone played a trick on you. How did you feel?
- Can you tell about a time when you played a trick on someone?
- How does God want us to treat others?
Review prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary graduate Mary Anne Welch