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The Perfect Orange: A Tale from Ethiopia



Last updated Friday, September 7, 2012

Author: Frank P. Araujo
Illustrator: Xiao-Jun Li
Date of Publication: 1994
ISBN: 1877810940
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Sep. 2012

Synopsis: In this gentle story from Ethiopia, an orphan girl presents the Nigus (king) with a perfect orange and refuses payment. She does accept a donkey, however, unaware that its saddlebags are full of gold and precious jewels. Ato Jib, the Lord Hyena, mocks the child's simple gift, but when he sees the richness of her reward, he hurries to the Nigus to present all his lands and cattle?and receives the perfect orange in return. Araujo's straightforward style is well suited to the simplicity of the story. Although the occasional inserted pronunciations can be distracting, they are certainly useful, as is the glossary. Li's delicate watercolors mesh well with the text. The earth-toned illustrations sweep across the pages, and are touched with brighter colors and intricate details. The human characters are a little stiff, but the hyena, muffled in his white robe, sparkles with mischief.

Discussion topics:
•  Have you ever given someone a gift, even if it wasn't fancy?
•  Do you know what a folktale is? Can you name some folktales?
•  Do you think The Perfect Orange is a nice gift?
•  Why do you think Tshai gave the king the orange? Why was the orange so special?
•  Would you take the gold or the jewels on the first offer? Why do you think Tshai didn't?
•  Do you think the Hyena was a good guy or a bad guy?
•  Do you know where Ethiopia is? Do you know where Africa is?

Vocabulary:
•  Generous- being kind to others.
•  Sincere- saying what you genuinely believe or feel.
•  Orphan- a child who has lost both parents.
•  Ethiopia- a republic in Africa.
•  Hyena- a doglike animal that hunts in packs and is carnivorous.
•  Deed- an exploit or achievement.
•  Precious- something that is very valuable or dear.
•  Gourd- a hard-shelled fruit whose shell can be used to make bowls and other utensils.
•  Bestow- to give as a gift.
•  Orchard- an area of land where fruit and nut trees are grown.
•  Casket- a coffin, or a small box for trinkets.
•  Humble- not too proud or arrogant.
•  Cattle- domesticated animals that are used as a food source.
•  Rare- something that is unusual.
•  Moustache- hair growing on the upper lip.

Craft ideas:
•  Draw a donkey, cut it out, and decorate it.
•  Make a collage of perfect gifts.
•  Write a thank-you note to the king.
•  Make your own hyena and cover it in a Kleenex robe.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!