CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 20. . . . June 6, 2003
What would you do to feel that you belonged to a group? This is the problem facing Anansi, the wily spider. Believing that the other animals don't respect him, Anansi seeks the respect of the Tiger, the most admired animal of the jungle. Tiger sends Anansi on a seemingly impossible test. Anansi must bring Mr. Snake - the grouchiest animal- to Mr. Tiger. After studying Snake's habits, Anansi finally tricks him by appealing to Snake's ego. Can Snake prove that he is longer than the Bamboo stick, which is the longest thing in the jungle? Accepting the challenge, Snake stretches himself over the length of the Bamboo. Anansi then uses his web to tie Snake to the pole and take him to Mr. Tiger. Realizing that he has humiliated Snake, Anansi rejects the admiration of the mob of jeering animals, and he releases the tearful Snake. In return, Nature gives Anansi the ability to spin strong and beautiful webs which is his special "magic".
Based on Mary Wither's book by the same title, this adaptation of the storytelling tradition of West Africa and the West Indies is an excellent way for parents and other caregivers to deal with issues of respect, self-esteem, bullying, and peer pressure. Resisting peer pressure can be difficult, but, as Anansi learned, being part of the group at the expense of the feelings and well-being of others is cruel. By being part of the group, Anansi lost his self-respect.
Other discussion topic suggested in the video's packaging include exploring the popularity of the Anansi stories; murals and research on jungle animals; and creating a new Anansi myth.
While this animated presentation has a serious subject matter, the brilliant jungle colours and humourous expressions of the animals help to lighten the mood. This vignette would be appropriate as relaxing entertainment, an exploration of myth, or a starting point for discussions on bullying.
Denise Weir is a consultant with Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, Public Library Services.
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