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SPIDER - SPIDERS - ANANSI - ANANSE
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Myths, History, Nursery Rhymes, Fantasy & Facts


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SPIDER - SPIDERS - ANANSI - ANANSE
Stories, Folktales, Folklore, Fairy Tales, Legends,
Myths, History, Nursery Rhymes, Fantasy & Facts

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Books about Spiders and Anansi
Audio products about Spiders - Anansi
Online links to Stories/Info - Spiders - Anansi
SOS - Searching Out Stories/Info-Spiders-Anansi
Advice, comments and references from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians


 

For comprehensive lists of Spider Books and Stories, go to:
Spider Books and Stories — All ages
Spider Books and Stories for Children 4-8
Spider Books and Stories for Children 9-12



SELECTED BOOKS ABOUT SPIDERS AND ANANSI (ANANSE)

Book titles are in blue and underlined. Click on them to find out more about the books and how to buy them.
To retell any stories, obtain permission from the copyright holder if the material is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Alphabetized for your convenience with short descriptions to save you research time.


Adventures of Spider: West African Folktales, The (BookFestival) by Joyce Cooper Arkhurst and Jerry Pinkney.
These six simple, witty tales reso-nate with the flavor of a far-off land;Pinkney--in one of his earliest illustrative efforts--contributes droll, highly stylized illustrations. Ages 4-10.

Ananse's Feast: An Ashanti Tale by Tololwa M. Mollel and Andres Glass.
When the clever spider Ananse outwits Akye the turtle by inviting him to a feast he cannot touch, Akye plans a tasty revenge. This clever retelling of an Ashanti tale is brought to life by lavish, comic illustrations.

Ananse and the Lizard: A West African Tale by Pat Cummings.
All the young men had gathered in the village courtyard to hear the Chiefs pronouncement: Whoever guesses his daughters name will have her hand in marriage, inherit half his riches, and become the next Chief. No one outside the palace had ever heard the royal daughters name.In a stroke of luck Ananse the spider discovers the secret.I, Ananse the most wise . . . the most clever . . . I alone know the name of the Chiefs daughter! . . .But clever Lizard has plans of his own. Pat Cummings lively retelling and vibrant illustrations capture all the mischief and humor of Ananse, one of the most popular characters of West African lore.

Anansi and the Magic Stick by Eric A. Kimmel.

Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock by Eric Kimmel and Janet Stevens (illus).
Grade 1-4 Anansi the Spider happens upon an unusual stone that magically puts him to sleep for an hour. The master trickster decides to use the rock to get the food stores from the rest of the local residents. Each animal is taken in turn to the strange moss-covered rock, says the magic phrase, and promptly falls asleep to have its food pilfered by Anansi. All the while, however, Little Bush Deer silently watches. Ultimately, it is small and shy Deer who outwits Anansi and returns the food to its rightful owners. Although no specific source is given, Kimmel has retold a West African tale (said to be known in Caribbean culture). The text is rhythmic, nicely building suspense to the inevitable conclusion. Stevens' complementary, colorful illustrations add detail, humor, and movement to the text. Here, Anansi is portrayed as a large eight-legged arachnid; his expression is in his motion. The other animals are almost realistic, although with facial expressions that are characteristic of the artist's work. This new picture book Anansi tale will be welcomed by all trickster fans. Maria B. Salvadore, District of Columbia Public Library.
VHS Video / Anansi and the Moss-covered Rock Retold By Eric A. Kimmel.

Anansi and the Pot of Beans (Story Cove: a World of Stories) by Bobby Norfolk.
Did you ever wonder why spiders have no hair? After reading this African trickster tale, you will know. When Anansi goes to help his grandmother, he can't resist her steaming, hot pot of beans. Bobby and Sherry Norfolk take a wonderful new look at a classic story.

Anansi and the Seven Yam Hills (Waterford Early Reading Program, Traditional Tale 4) by Elizabeth Lane.

Anansi and the Talking Melon (Live Oak Readalong)(book & cassette) by Eric A. Kimmel.

Anansi and the Tug O' War: Story Cove Series (Story Cove: a World of Stories) by Bobby Norfolk.

Anansi Does The Impossible!: An Ashanti Tale (Aladdin Picture Books) by Verna Aardema

Anansi Finds a Fool by Verna Aardema

Anansi Goes Fishing by Eric Kimmel and Janet Stevens (illus).
Anansi the spider plans to trick Turtle into catching a fish for his dinner, but Turtle proves to be smarter and ends up with a free meal. Explains the origin of spider webs.

Anansi Goes to Lunch (Story Cove: a World of Stories) by Bobby Norfolk.
Anansi is invited to three concurrent parties and wants to attend them all. He gives each of his hosts a rope to tug, ties the other end around his own waist, and waits to be summoned when the food is served -- but when all of the food is ready at the same time, Anansi is caught in the middle! That's why Spiders have small waists today.

Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti by Gerald McDermott.

Anansi Time with Bobby Norfolk (World Storytelling from August House) by Bobby Norfolk.

A book of sorcerers and spells by Ruth Manning-Sanders.

Clever Anansi and Boastful Bullfrog: A Caribbean Tale by H. Patten.

Dancing Granny, The by Ashley Bryan.

The Descent of Anansi by Steven Barnes.

Easy-To-Tell Stories for Young Children ("The Farmer and the Spiderweaver") by Annette Harrison.

How Anansi Learned Self-Esteem: 10 Original Stories for Building Self-Confidence and Self-Respect by James Culver.
How Anansi Learned Self-Esteem is a collection of ten original Anansi the Spider stories with illustrations. The stories cover various aspects of self-esteem development beneficial to children and general audiences.

Jamaican Song and Story: Annancy Stories, Digging Sings, Ring Tunes, and Dancing Tunes by Walter Jekyll.
This collection of authentic stories about Annancy — the trickster spider and Jamaican folk hero — features the best-known, most-loved tales, plus work songs and dance tunes. Extensive editorial apparatus makes it an invaluable resource for anthropologists as well as a treat for anyone interested in Jamaican cultural history.

The Man in the Moon: Sky Tales from Many Lands by Alta Jablow and Carl Withers.

Pot of Wisdom, The: Ananse Stories by Adwoa Badoe and BabaWague Diakite.
One of the major figures in African folklore is the round-bellied trickster-spider Ananse, who outwits enemies large and small. With The Pot of Wisdom, a wider audience can enjoy these delightful tales. Adwoa Badoe’s witty retellings and Baba Wague Diakite’s colorful images bring Ananse and his amusing — and instructive — adventures to life.

Rabbit Ears Treasury of World Tales: Volume One: Aladdin, Anansi, East of the Sun/West of the Moon, The Five Chinese Brothers
Read by Denzel Washington
Original Music by UB40
These two stories feature Anansi, the hilarious spider of West Indian folklore. In the first, he outwits a prideful snake to win possession of all the stories in the jungle. The second recounts his getting tangled in his own web of lies at his mother-in-law's funeral.

Story-teller poems (Golden Cobwebs) by Rowena Bennett.

The Storytime Sourcebook: A Compendium of Ideas and Resources for Storytellers by Margaret Read MacDonald.

Storytellers Sourcebook: A Subject, Title, and Motif Index to Folklore Collections for Children by Margaret Read MacDonald.

Talking Vegetables (The) by Wod-Ldy Pae and margaret H. Lippert.
A wonderful folktale from the award-winning authors of Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile. The villagers are planting a garden, but Spider refuses to help. He has plenty of rice to eat, so why should he do all that hard work? Then one day Spider gets tired of plain rice and decides to pick some of the delicious produce. Imagine his surprise when the vegetables start talking! The talented team that created the award-winning titles Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile and Head, Body, Legs join together once again for a laugh-out-loud funny Liberian story.

Ten Tales of Christmas, selected by Lynne G. Miller.

13 ghosts ("The Spider Specter of the Pool"), compiled by Dorothy Gladys Spicer.

West African Folk-Tales (Yesterday's Classics) by W.H. Barker and Cecilia Sinclair.

Why the spider lives in corners; African facts and fun (1971)
An introduction to Ghana, Liberia, Congo, Uganda, and Zambia giving for each country a description of the flag, an article about a typical child, a factual portrait of the country, a folktale, and a native game or song.

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AUDIO LINKS ABOUT SPIDERS

 

Audio links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Story titles are in quotation marks.
Short descriptions included for your convenience and to save you research time.


African Village Folktales Audio Collection ("Anansi and Turtle") by Edna Mason Kuala (book and tape) - Read by Brock Peters and Diana Sand.

Anansi with Denzel Washington. (VHS)
Customer review
This is a really fun video for any age. Denzel Washington's Caribbean accent and UB 40's funky music are real treats, and the cartoons are cool. This video even managed to capture our oh-so-cool and very hard to please seventh-graders! I heard plenty of "yah mahn's" around the halls in school afterwards. Enjoy this video of the clever teeny-weeny spider who tricks both the longest and the strongest animal in the jungle!

Rabbit Ears : Anansi with Denzel Washington. (VHS)
Product Description
Denzel Washington narrates two hillarious stories about Anansi the spider who wins possession of all the stories in the jungle by outsmarting the prideful snake. Reggae hit-makers UB40 provide the decidedly Jamaican score.

Anansi and Turtle by Priscilla Howe. (CD: "The Best and Worst of Beasts")

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ONLINE LINKS TO STORIES AND INFORMATION ABOUT SPIDERS AND ANANSI (ANANSE)


Online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more stories and information.
Story titles are in quotation marks.
Short descriptions included for your convenience and to save you research time.


http://www.kinderkorner.com/spiders.html
"Along Came A Spider" - A Thematic Unit About Our Creepy, Crawly, Eight-Legged Friends.
A fabulous site for everything "spider"!

http://www.arachnophiliac.com/burrow/literature/literature.htm#The%20Story%20of%20Anansi
Arachnids in Literature. Many stories about spiders.

http://www.arachnology.be/pages/Stories.html
Arachnology Home Page, The
Section : Myths, stories & spiders in history.

http://tinyurl.com/266kt8m
"How Stories Came to Earth" - an Ashanti legend

http://www.mythinglinks.org/ct~weaving.html
MYTH*ING LINKS
An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies,
Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
Common Themes, East & West
WEAVING: ARTS & LORE
Cosmic Webs,
Spinning, Spindles,
Embroidery, Quilts, Clothing

http://www.longlongtimeago.com/llta_history_bruce.html
http://www.showcaves.com/english/explain/History/Bruce.html
"Robert the Bruce and the Spider"

http://www.2learn.ca/search/NetStepView.asp?PID=939
Spider Research Links

http://www.archive.org/details/west_african_folk_tales_librivox
"Why Spiders Live in Corners"

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/stories/world/wisdom.shtml?page1
"Why Wisdom is Everywhere" (bilingual) (Anansi)

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SOS: SEARCHING OUT STORIES AND INFORMATION - SPOONERISMS
Advice, Comments and References from Storytellers, Teachers and Librarians

(excerpts from Storytell posts plus original research)

Book titles and online links are in blue and underlined. Click on them to get more information.
Story and song titles are in italics.
To retell any stories, get permission from the copyright holder if the materials is not in the public domain.
In performance, always credit your sources.
Posts are added chronologically as they are received by Story Lovers World.

1) "The Farmer and the Spiderweaver" in Easy-To-Tell Stories for Young Children by Annette Harrison. She cites no source.


2) Query: I am looking for the story "Why Spiders live in Corners."

Responses:

a) Here is one online version but I am sure there are others.
http://www.arachnophiliac.com/burrow/literature/literature.htm#The%20Story%20of%20Anansi

BTW, there are also a few other tales on this site, all to do with spiders, worth a look if you don't have arachnaphobia like me.

b) I have a version of this story on my website at
http://www.rosethestorylady.com

Rose the story lady


3) "Anansi and Turtle" - in book and on tape by Edna Mason Kaula, African Village Folktales Audio Collection - Read by Brock Peters and Diana Sand (1969). It's called, "Ananse and His Visitor Turtle."

Bones:
Anansi doesn't show hospitatlity to Turtle when he visits, so Turtle invites Anansai for a visit "to pay him back."  Poor Anansai doesn't get a lovely meal that Turtle serves at the bottom of the river.

Ina V.D.


4) "Anansi and Turtle" - an African folktale

Story:
One day Anansi the spider picked some very fat yams from his garden. He carefully baked them and, oh boy, did they smell good! Yum-Yum! He spread those hot, steamy yams out on his table, his nose sniffing each one. He just couldn't wait to eat them, and his tummy rumbled with happiness.

Suddenly he heard a knock at the door. His friend Turtle had traveled all the way from town to visit. At the open door, Turtle sighed, very tired and very, very hungry. Her nose waved about in the air. "Mmmmm! I smell something good. Juicy, delicious yams! Will you share them with me, my good, friend?" Well, what could Anansi say? It was the custom in his country to share meals with visitors, especially with friends. Oh, but he was not happy about it, not one little bit. He wanted those yummy yams all to himself. Now Anansi was a trickster, so he quickly thought up a sneaky scheme to keep those yams away from Turtle.

"Oh, Turtle, good friend Turtle, come in, sit down! I am so honored by your visit," Ananzi squeezed out a phony smile. "Turtle waddled inside and sat at the table, loaded with scrumptious yams. Her mouth watering, Turtle reached out for a yam. "No, no, no!" cried Anansi. "I'm shocked at your behavior! Don't you know better than to come to my table with such dirty hands?" Sure enough, Turtle’s hands were covered with the dust of the road.

So Turtle padded down to the river and swished her hands in the water until they were squeaky clean. Then she walked back to Anansi's house, dreaming about those tasty yam treats. Anansi stopped stuffing his mouth long enough to say, "Oh, Turtle my dear dear friend, please join me now. Forgive me, I just had to begin before the yams got cold!" Turtle went to the table and reached once more for her heart's desire.

"Oh, oh, oh! Stop!" cried Anansi. "Turtle! Look at your hands! I told you to wash them, but they're filthy! You should be ashamed of yourself! Tsk! Tsk!" Turtle looked down at her hands and realized that since she had crawled back to the house through the mud, they were dirty again. So off to the river she went once more, this time vowing to walk back only on the grass.

By the time she got back, Anansi was licking his fingers and smacking his lips. And every one of those mouth-watering yams was gone. Gone! Nothing remained. Turtle stared at Anaansi and at the empty plates for a long time. Then she said politely, "Thank you so very, very much for sharing your meal with me. If you ever find yourself near my house, please let me return the favor!" Then she slowly walked out the door and went on her way.

Days went by. Anansi thought more and more about the meal that Turtle had offered. Finally, he could stand it no longer. Off he want to Turtle's house. She was sunning herself on the riverbank just around dinnertime. "Oh, hello, Anansi, my good friend, have you come to share my evening meal with me?" "Oh, yes, yes! Indeed I have!" Anansi was very hungry.

Turtle jumped into the water and swam to her underwater house to set up her dinner table for two. Swimming back to the riverbank, she said, "Oh, Anansi, please join me now in my cozy home and we'll enjoy our meal together!" With that, she dove back into the water, sat down at her table and began to savor her delicious food.

Anansi followed Turtle into the water, but he couldn't swim to the bottom of the river. He dove. He belly flopped. He tried a running jump. Nothing worked. He was so light he kept popping back up to the surface. He could see Turtle below him slowly eating her food, smiling, smiling. Anansi was furious. "She's not going to get away with this!" So he stuffed stones into his jacket pockets and this time, when he jumped into the water, he sank immediately and took his place at Turtle's table, loaded down with fabulous foods. Anansi reached out for his first morsel. "Oh, oh, oh!" cried Turtle. "Oh, no, Anansi, my close and dear friend. Huh-uh, no, no! In my country, we do not wear our jackets at dinner. It is considered most impolite and the punishment is severe!" Turtle's own jacket hung on a nearby hook. So, without thinking, Anansi removed his jacket and whiz! whoosh! zoom! He shot right back up to the surface of the water. Defeated, he peered down into the water and saw Turtle sitting at her dining table, enjoying her marvelous banquet. She looked up at Ananzi and flashed a dazzling smile as she popped morsel after morsel into her mouth, until finally the whole meal disappeared.

Anansi thought grumpily, "There wasn't anything there that looked good to me anyway! I don't care one bit about Turtle and her magnificent meal!" And with that he returned to his home and his yams.

Jackie B. 2/21/06


5) Background on Anansi (Aunt Nancy) from a post:
Anansi is usually a man who can turn himself into a spider. He was given the gift of storytelling by the sky god in one version retold by Deborah M. Newton Chocolate.  There are also several versions of how Anansi received the gift of storytelling.  There is a story called Anancy and Mr. Dry-bone by Fiona French. Note that there are at least three spellings of Anansi.  Aunt Nancy is a female, her story is usually told in the West Indies more so than in USA.

Katye R. 11/14/97
 

6) "The Spider Specter of the Pool"  in 13 ghosts, compiled by Dorothy Gladys Spicer. Japanese story - one version of it . It is the only story and only source listed in Margaret Read MacDonald's Storytellers Sourcebook: A Subject, Title, and Motif Index to Folklore Collections for Children under the category of "spider as revenant."

In the story, a poor young apprentice blacksmith learns that the Emperor's daughter has been taken captive by the Spider Specter of the pool, who is the ghost of a former evil Empress who is tormenting the  descendents of her Emperor husband who had her executed for her misdeeds.

Vicky D. 10/29/01
 

7) "Christmas Spider" - saves the Holy family.  Found in The Christmas Spider by Marguerite de Angeli. I have it in Ten Tales of Christmas, selected by Lynne G. Miller ( 1972). The copyright citations in the front of the book indicate that it was published in a collection of de Angeli's called Up the HIll (Doubleday, 1942).
 
Also found a poem version of this same story in Treasury of Christmas Stories, edited by Ann McGovern (Scholastic, 1991). It is called "Golden Cobwebs" by Rowena Bennett from Story-teller poems; (1948). She calls it an old tale told in verse. I wonder howold is old?

8) Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock - popular picture book by Eric Kimmel and "The Mossy Rock" from A book of sorcerers and spells by Ruth Manning-Sanders, but I wonder if it is where Eric Kimmel got his inspiration. The language is a bit stilted.

Bones:
Anansi is looking for food in the forest, sees a rock with moss growing all over it, just like a thick green coat. Oh, Oh, says Anansi,   What a very curious stone   All with green moss overgrown! Falls to the ground in a faint because there was a strong spell on the rock.

Audrey K. 4/15/02


9) The story of these three as adapted by Alta Jablow and Carl Withers in the book, The Man in the Moon: Sky Tales from Many Lands is called "All Light Comes from the Sun," and also includes a fiddle.  In the story notes, Jablow states:  "The dragon and fiddle are not indigenous folktale elements, but they are pleasantly Africanized."  The tale as told in Jablow's book seems to carry many attributes of "obstacle" folktales from places other than West Africa, but is attributed to the Ashanti of Ghana.  The notes say it is adapted from a story in West African Folk-Tales (Yesterday's Classics) by W.H. Barker and Cecilia Sinclair.
Lyn F. 6/6/99

10) There is also a short Anansi tale called "Why Wisdom Is Everywhere." Anansi is  greedy and wants to keep wisdom all for himself. He decides to hide it up in  a tall tree. As he struggles to climb the tree holding the pot Anansi's son  offers advice. Anansi is enraged and throws down the pot of wisdom in a fit  of tempter. Pieces of wisdom fly in every direction. That is why no one person has all the worlds wisdom. People everywhere share small pieces of it whenever they exchange ideas.

Karen C. 10/19/01


11) What I have heard of the "Christmas Spider" is that it was originally a Ukrainian legend, but I have heard from friends that it is also considered part of German holiday tradition too. Though a little Google searching did indicate that Red Spider Technologies out of Aberdeen is using the German Christmas spider tradition to give spider decorations to its clients.

The main Scottish spider legend is that of Robert the Bruce and the spider, which also has Robert the Bruce in a cave. However, according to his tale he had been in the cave for 3 months after being defeated in battle. He was at the point of giving up the fight for Scottish independence when he saw a little spider spinning a web, and it kept failing, but on the 7th time it succeeded. He was inspired by the spider's perserverance and rallied his men.
http://www.longlongtimeago.com/llta_history_bruce.html
http://www.showcaves.com/english/explain/History/Bruce.html

The only other item I know of that connects spiders and the Scottish is the old folk cure of using spider webs in poultices with honey to treat wounds.

Cathy M. 11/30/06


12) "Grandpa Sydney’s Anancy Stories" by Geoffrey Philp.
Jimmy Harrison loves school and his favorite subject is snack time! But when a new boy, Kevin, joins his class, he begins to bully Jimmy and the rest of the children. What’s worse, he begins to take away Jimmy’s snacks. Using the wisdom from his Grandpa Sydney’s story about “Anancy, Snake, and Tiger,” Jimmy overcomes the class bully. And for one Sunday, he reunites his family for dinner. Set in the multicultural environment of South Florida, Grandpa Sydney’s Anancy Stories draws on the rich oral tradition of Anancy stories that are told and re-told in Jamaica and the Caribbean. These Anancy stories, which originated in West Africa, are rich sources of wisdom that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Initially, the Anancy stories were only bedtime stories for Jimmy. However, Jimmy finds out that there are lessons to be learned from this legendary cultural hero when he comes up against a school bully. Grandpa Sydney's Anancy Stories is guaranteed to delight and entertain readers of all ages. It is great learning tool for the classroom and an excellent introduction to Caribbean culture and folklore. So, if you love a good story or maybe you've never even heard of Anancy the Spider then you need to buy this book.
Stephen Bess
Morphological Confetti
http://stores.lulu.com/geoffreyphilp

Geoffrey P. 8/4/07


Created 2003; last update 11/17/10

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