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The Warrior and the Moon: Spirit of the Maasai    by Nick Would & Evie Safarewicz order for
Warrior and the Moon
by Nick Would
Order:  USA  Can
Frances Lincoln, 2004 (2002)
Hardcover, Softcover
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I opened The Warrior and the Moon with curiosity, having climbed Kilimanjaro in 1985 and encountered Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania. As the author says 'No one forgets their first glimpse of a Maasai warrior.' Nick Would gives us five stories, incorporating Maasai belief systems and 'the unique, magical spirit of the Maasai.' Evie Safarewicz's bright illustrations convey the feelings of people and the richness of nature and wildlife in the Maasai heartland.

In 'The Warrior and the Moon', Muate must climb the mountain and listen to Enkai, God of the Maasai, after the moon is stolen and dropped into the mountain's crater. He succeeds when the volcano rumbles, flames appear on top, and the moon is regurgitated. 'Nasira and the White Elephant' tells the tale of a young woman who risks her life to save a special (pure white) baby elephant from hyenas. Long afterwards, when she herself is in danger and her son calls for help, the favor is returned.

In a time of drought, a young Maasai dreams himself onto the 'Road of Stars' and wakes up blind. When an elder helps him, Enkai shows both the way to Ngorongoro crater (now a famous wildlife reserve). Another great drought sets the scene for 'Sendeyo and the Rain God', in which a boy dares to steal eggs from the deadly black mamba to bring rain to his people. And in 'Footprints in the Wind', a warrior is bitten by a scorpion and almost speared by a giant rhino, who meets his match in a colossal baobab tree. Is it all a dream?

Use The Warrior and the Moon to introduce children to a vibrant African culture, to learn about the way of life of the Maasai, and to understand how natural events can influence storytelling and mythology.

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