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The Great Tug of War: And Other Stories Paperback – 1 Mar 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books; 1 edition (1 Mar. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845070550
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845070557
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 14.4 x 0.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 296,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Excellent to read aloud and accessible to independent young readers. (Riveting Reads SLA)

About the Author

BEVERLEY NAIDOO was born in South Africa. Her first book, Journey to Jo'burg, was written in exile in Britain where it won The Other Award. It opened a window onto children's struggles under apartheid. In South Africa it was banned until 1991, the year after Nelson Mandela was released from jail. After 26 years Beverley could return freely to research in the country. No Turning Back and Out of Bounds followed. In her stories for older children, her characters from different backgrounds face tense conflicts and choices. The Other Side of Truth won her the Carnegie Medal, the first time in 64 years for a novel of African origin. Her books for younger children include The Great Tug of War, S is for South Africa (Children’s Africana Honor Book, USA)  and a re-telling of Aesop’s Fables (Parents’ Choice Silver Award, USA; USBBY Outstanding International Book) and Who is King?

To visit Beverley Naidoo's website click here

Piet Grobler grew up on a farm in Limpopo, South Africa. After working as a church minister, he made a career in illustration and now lectures at the University of Worcester. He is the recipient of many international illustration awards, including the IBBY Honours List. His books for Frances Lincoln include The Great Tug of War (9781845070557), Aesop's Fables (9781847800077) and Who Is King? (9781847805140) with Beverley Naidoo, Fussy Freya (9781845075118) with Katharine Quarmby, The Magic Bojabi Tree with Dianne Hofmeyr (9781847805867) and All the Wild Wonders (9781847806260) and A is Amazing (9781847805133) with Wendy Cooling.

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First Sentence
Long long ago, Mmutla the hare lived in a cave halfway up Kololo Hill. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Snusmumriken Manqué on 2 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
A retelling of eight traditional Setswana tales from southern Africa. The stories are:

The Great Tug-of-War
Little Animals Should Not Make Fun of Big Animals
Who Shall Drink?
The Race
King Lion in Love
The Lion Who Danced With Dinner
The Hare and the Horns
Does One Good Turn Deserve Another?

The central character is Mmutla the hare, a trickster who has a lot in common with Brer Rabbit and, to a lesser extent, Anansi. Motifs such as the tar baby and the briar patch appear here in somewhat different forms. So, more generally, does the theme of the weak, lowly person who must use their wits to survive in a world dominated by the strong, circumstances familiar to most schoolchildren. A note from the author at the end of the book draws wider political parallels: these African stories found a new life across the Atlantic because in retelling them enslaved Africans could keep their minds free even though their bodies were in chains (she also provides a helpful guide to pronouncing the Setswana names).

Which is not to say that these stories are grim political fables. The dominant tone is rollicking farce, reinforced by Piet Grobler's wry illustrations, which will help children to visualise a world that may be very foreign to them. But these are though-provoking tales, not least the final one, the only story to feature a human child and one which raises deep questions: When should we trust strangers? Is it rational to co-operate with others? Does true altruism really exist?

Beverley Naidoo tells these tales well, in a lively, direct style, but with poetic touches that recall traditional storytelling: "Mmutla... took special care to avoid the young boys. Didn't they boast how their arrows were even swifter than Ntsu the eagle?" They read well aloud, and entertained my 4-year-old, but a more confident reader would enjoy reading them alone.
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