Once Upon a Time in Ghana:

Traditional Stories Retold in English

Review by: Africa Access


Once Upon a Time in Ghana
Anna Cottrell and Agbotadua Togbi Kumassah

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Cottrell and Kumassah have assembled a collection of ten traditional Ewe stories originating from the Volta Region of eastern Ghana. 

The collection comprises ten didactic stories about situations concerning drought, deception, choice of children, husbands, etc. Most of the topics address ethical issues and respect. These Ewe stories begin and end with the standard formula and focus on important principles of the culture as taught to their children. The trickster spider Ayiyi sets up conflicts involving humans or animals. North American young readers will require additional information about the culture to fully appreciate the stories. There is no map or supplementary materials to help the reader become familiar with the culture. However, the authors provide an Internet link to readers for additional information on Ghanaian storytelling and the Ewe culture. Black and white sketches focus on the important points. The proceeds from the sale of this collection are returned to the storytellers. This book is a gift to non-Ewe people around the world as they too look inward and consider solutions to contemporary issues. 

Once Upon a Time in Ghana was named a Children's Africana Book Award Best Book 2014.


Reviewed by Patricia Kuntz, Madison, Wisconsin

Published in Africa Access Review (June 2, 2014)

Copyright 2014 Africa Access

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