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Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West…

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale (original 1975; edition 2004)

by Verna Aardema (Author), Leo Dillon (Illustrator), Diane Dillon (Illustrator)

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3,0132211,895 (4.13)14
Title:Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale
Authors:Verna Aardema (Author)
Other authors:Leo Dillon (Illustrator), Diane Dillon (Illustrator)
Info:Puffin/Dial (1992), 32 pages
Collections:Traditional Literature, K-2nd Grade Readers
Tags:West Africa, folk tale, animals, mosquito, lying

Work details

Why Mosquitos Buzz in People's Ears by Verna Aardema (1975)


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Showing 1-5 of 219 (next | show all)
I thoroughly enjoyed Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by: Verna Aardema. I liked this book firstly because on each page it repeats the same few things over again. It begins with, “It was the monkey who killed the owlet and now Mother Owl won’t wake the sun so that the day can come.”, and each page adds a new sentence. The next page adds, “So, it was the crow who alarmed the monkey, who killed the owlet and now Mother Owl won’t wake the sun so that the day can come.” I believe this formatting of the book begins to give the book a rhythm, and further entices the reader. This folk tale is about how a mosquito’s lying to an iguana caused an entire jungle to react in chaos, to the point where the sun would not come up. The mosquito’s actions caused a chain reaction to occur, and in the end the book answers why mosquitoes whisper or buzz in people’s ears. The rhythm and rhyming within the book makes the book more enjoyable and fun to read, and was one of the best parts about the book.
I also liked how the tale included onomatopoeia on almost every page. For example, the snake in the story makes the “ wasawasu, wasawasu, wasawasu”, sound to imitate what a snake sounds like when they move across the ground. The crow in the story makes the “kaa, kaa, kaa!” sound in order to imitate what a crow sounds like when it is chirping out loud. I believe this helps the reader put themselves into the jungle as they can clearly not only imagine what is happening in the story, but they can hear it. I believe this combined with the rhythm of the book creates a vivid world for the reader to be in. It further engages the reader, and makes for a fantastic tale.
The message of this story is that people or animals in this sense should never tell lies. The mosquito’s small lie caused a catastrophe to happen, and chaos to break out. If he would not have lied, the baby owlet would not have lost its life. This book uses exaggeration to explain the consequences of lying, such as an owlet dying due to the actions of the mosquito. ( )
  AriannaMaine | Oct 12, 2017 |
This tale is a great example as to how lying quickly gets out of hand and causes disaster and turmoil just as the mosquito did in this story. The reality of children learning about the negative influences that coincide with lying can help them become aware of the importance of telling the truth and being sensitive and caring to themselves and others. This story does a very nice job at providing scenarios that depict the rollercoaster effects of lying, in a manner that young children can grasp. ( )
  MsCrosby | Sep 18, 2017 |
This story is about a mosquito that annoys an iguana causing the iguana to put sticks in his ears which causes a chain reaction among all of the other animals in the jungle. This chain reaction eventually leads to Owl refusing to call out the sun to begin the day. Finally the animals inquire why owl will not call the sun and upon hearing her story they decide that mosquito must be punished. Mosquito over hears the other animals and goes into hiding but he continues to buzz in peoples ears to find out if the animals are still angry with him.

Personal Reaction: I think this is a very unique way of explaining cause and effect to children. It is also a wonderful way to explain inference to them.

Classroom Extensions:
1. The children could draw their own animals from the story and research three facts about that animal.
2. Define onomatopoeia to the children and then ask them to draw the numerous animals from the story and include what words go with the animals that are examples of onomatopoeia. ( )
  TCollins90 | Sep 15, 2017 |
This Caldecott Award Winner fits that title. It is a story about the chain of events that happen after a mosquito tells a lie to an iguana. The mosquito eventually goes into hiding after realizing that the entire neighborhood is upset with him.

Personal Reaction:
I thought this story was too cute. I think it can really teach a lesson to kids about what a small rumor can lead to.

Classroom Extensions:
1. In the classroom, we could play the telephone game to show the kids how fast words can get twisted around.
2. We could color each animal that is in the story and then demonstrate the story by acting out each scene. ( )
  kaseycook | Sep 12, 2017 |
Summary: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears is a West African Tale that tells the story of a mosquito who lies to lizard about a farmer digging yams as big as mosquitos. Lizard puts sticks in his ears, which offends a python, who frightens a rabbit, which scares a crow who sends off an alarm of danger, which startles monkey and causes him to fall on an owl's nest and kills her baby. Owl then refuses to call up the sun, and King Lion holds a meeting of the animals. Owl blames the monkey, who blames the next animal, until it comes back to mosquito. The last page shows mosquito buzzing in a person's ear, claiming to want to know if the other animals are still mad at him, while the person swats the mosquito.

Personal Connection: This story reminded me of other legends I have heard, and I liked the underlying message of not spreading rumors. I also liked the use of watercolor and ink.

-Meet the Author movie: https://www.teachingbooks.net/author_collection.cgi?id=14&mid=31
-Book reading: https://www.teachingbooks.net/book_reading.cgi?id=8245
-Caldecott Award, 1976

Application to Teaching: Legends such as these would be great for a unit on central message, or to be used in a unit on cause and effect. ( )
  alliecipolla | Jul 19, 2017 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Verna Aardemaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dillon, DianeIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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For Marcia VanDuinen who heard this story first
First words
One morning a mosquito saw an iguana drinking at a waterhole.
Is everyone still mad at me?
Mosquito told me such a big lie, I couldn't bear to listen to it. So I put sticks in my ears.
I'd rather be deaf than listen to such nonsense!
It was the mosquito's fault
The mosquito said, "I saw a farmer digging yams that were almost as big as I am."
"What's a mosquito compared to a yam?" snapped the iguana grumpily.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
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Book description
This West African pourquoi tale explains why mosquitoes buzz in people's ears. It all starts with Mosquito telling a lie to Iguana. Tired of listening to Mosquito, Iguana puts twigs in his own ears. When Python tries to talk to Iguana and Iguana doesn't respond to him, it sets off a chain of events that leads to the sun not rising in the morning. King Lion must learn the story of the events leading back to Mosquito's lie in order to get Mother Owl to call the sun. The story is enhanced by beautiful Caldecott winning illustrations.

If you enjoyed this story, try "Ahanti to Zulu: African Traditions".
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Reveals the meaning of the mosquito's buzz.

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