Our world is filled with various cultures that make it a beautiful place. When given the right tools children can see it that too. Many books and movies can show children how being different is great and help them learn about others’ cultures and lifestyles. Anansi the spider is a book that does just that. Anansi the Spider was written and illustrated by tale spinner, Gerald McDermott. McDermott has created over twenty-five books and films. He was admitted to Detroit Institute of Arts at only four years of age. Through his school career he continued to pursue his passion for visual arts.
He graduated from Cass Tech, a public high school for gifted students. Upon graduating McDermott was awarded a national Scholastic scholarship to Pratt Institute in New York. During his junior year of college he became the first graphic designer for an educational television station in New York. During this year, he also designed his first animated film, The Stonecutter. He returned to Pratt Institute and began a series of animated films based on folklore. He then began turning his films into picture books. His first book being, Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti.
McDermott has earned Caldecott Medals for three of his books, Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti, Arrow to the Sun: A Tale from the Pueblo, and Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest. McDermott was recently named Charter Member of AOSA National Advocacy Council. The AOSA Board member Jacque Schrader said this upon bestowing this honor, “Beyond the obvious appeal to our imaginations, what is it that makes Gerald’s stories and illustrations so magnetizing? Is it his sensitive use of language, the simple beauty of the rhythm of his text?
Is it the extensive esearch he does into the symbolism and background of the culture from which the story comes? Is it the emotional reaction we have to each book’s carefully chosen palette of colors? Or is it his background as a filmmaker that enables his illustrations to dance across the printed page? It could be any of these things- it is most likely a combination of ALL these things that makes Gerald’s work what it is. ” McDermott’s first book Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti is an actual piece of ancient folklore passed down through generations in the long-established culture of the Ashanti of West Africa, in Ghana.
Ghana is a country of dense rainforests between the ocean and the desert. The Ashanti tribe takes great pride in their oral traditions and takes care in protecting them. They have had a highly organized society for four hundred years and are superb artisans. Into their beautiful fabrics they weave symbols of their folklore and art. Anansi is a folk-hero to the people of Ashanti. He is shrewd cunning, and mischievous. Anansi has many human qualities and is a very lovable character. The book Anansi the spider: A Tale from the Ashanti tells of one of his many adventures.
Gerald McDermott captures a culture in his story of a traditional Ashanti tale. McDermott shares with children the cultures of many places through his stories and animated films. Through his works children can see how other children around the world live and how all of our differences make the world such a beautiful place.
Gerald Mcdermott. (n. d. ). Retrieved from http://www. geraldmcdermott. com/biography. htm Mcdermott, G. (1987). Anansi the spider: a tale from the ashanti. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, LLC.