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PreSchool-Grade 3–After sleeping through the hot East African afternoon, it is time for Mama Hyena and her child to go hunting. Pinduli promises to stay close by, but then trots off. She comes across a pack of wild dogs, a lion, and a zebra, and all tease her about her looks. She rolls in the dirt until her striped coat is a pallid gray and her ears are pinned back. The animals think that she is a "ghost" that has come for them. All of the creatures then confess that they teased the young hyena because another animal had made fun of them. The "ghost" understands and advises them to "find your tormentors and make peace…. And always leave a bit of every meal as an offering." By story's end, the animals have reconciled, and with all the food offerings left, Pinduli and her mother never have to scrounge around looking for meals. The animals' expressions and antics are hilarious and endearing; Cannon has pulled off quite a feat in creating a cuddly hyena protagonist. This touching book about personal growth and self-acceptance gently demonstrates how the actions of one can have far-reaching effects on many others. An appealing and worthwhile purchase.–Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
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Gr. 1-3. Cannon, best known as the author/illustrator of Stellaluna (1993), here introduces Pinduli, a little hyena who lives in East Africa. One afternoon, Pinduli encounters a pack of wild dogs that make fun of her ears, a bald lion that calls her fur a "prickly fringe," and a zebra that criticizes the haziness of her stripes. After transforming her "flaws" as best she can, Pinduli inadvertently tricks these animals into thinking that she is the "Great Spirit." They confess their misdeeds and agree to make amends. Children will find Pinduli's hurt feelings understandable and her quick thinking admirable. The artwork, executed in colored pencils and acrylics, uses a restrained palette in the large pictures depicting the main story on the right-hand pages. On the left, below the text, a series of small ink drawings create a visual counterpoint by showing what Pinduli's mother is doing while events unfold. A four-page endnote discusses the various species of hyenas and their characteristics. Though a bit purposeful, the story may give teachers and parents a starting point for discussing insults. Carolyn Phelan
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