Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale

by Verna Aardema

Paperback, 2004



Local notes

398.2 Aar



Puffin/Dial (2004), Paperback, 32 pages


When Strega Nona leaves him alone with her magic pasta pot, Big Anthony is determined to show the townspeople how it works.

Original publication date


Physical description

32 p.; 10.3 inches


0140549056 / 9780140549058


3685, 3686

User reviews

LibraryThing member annajamieson
The Caldecott Award winner Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale by Verna Aardema is an African folktale written as a picture book. It is filled with colorful and bright illustrations that children would love to look through. The story is about a misquito who tells a lie to an iguana and how that lie caused a lot of chaos in the animal world. The story ends in a humorous way because it reveals why mosquitoes buzz in people's ears all the time. It is a story that will teach children the lesson that telling the truth is always the best option. In a classroom, you could teach children about folktales and how they came about. You could also use this to teach the moral of the story that lying is wrong and can hurt other people.… (more)
LibraryThing member daffyduck24
This book is a funny story about how one little thing sets off many other things to happen. The story is about a mosquito that tells a lie to the iguana and starts a chaotic situation, upsetting many other animals. It is a lesson of how paying attention pays off.
I really didn't like this book. I don't know why I just couldn't stay interested in it. It had cute illustrations, but that's it.
One classroom extension idea I would use would be to have the children get in a circle and whisper to one child and see how the story changes as it goes around the circle, it's funny to see how the story changes. Another idea I would do,would be to have the children come up with their own story of why mosquitoes buzz in our ears.
… (more)
LibraryThing member ksmitherman04
This book, which is available in Spanish as well as English, is a great way to introduce an African tale. The illustrations are vibrant and engaging, and the repetitive nature of the text is a powerful way to tell stories. The theme addresses misinterpretations and conflict, which are real life scenarios that both children and adults are able to relate to.… (more)
LibraryThing member CTieyah
This book is a winner of the Caldecott Award. It explains exactly what the titles entails: why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears. A mosquito tells an iguana a mouthful of nonsense, annoying the iguana. The iguana puts sticks in his ears so that he cannot hear the mosquito, or anything, for that matter. The actions of the iguana to the mosquito begins a chain reaction throughout the forest, causing Mother Owl not to wake the sun. There is a council meeting as King Lion gets to the root of the problem, the mosquito.

I really enjoyed this book. It is very clever and imaginative. It does have a baby owl die in the story, which may not be suitable for the really young children, but I read it to my daughter and she seemed to like the book. The pictures are beautifully done, too. They are very colorful and big. Last summer, my daughter asked me why the bugs would fly around our heads and not leave us alone and this story answered her question! The author included random sounds in the text, too, which livened the story even more.

This book has a repetitive style of writing, as well. When reading about the council meeting, I would ask the children about which animal startled the next, in order to include participation and exercise their memory. I could ask them to give me their impressions of what noises they think the animals make and draw big pictures of their favorite animal in the story.
… (more)
LibraryThing member landa69
This book is very, very interesting. It is about a group of animals. These animals could easily be subsituted for humans. The book starts out as a simple word spoken and turns into a nightmare. It takes an entire village and a noble leader to make the correction so that everyone will be on the same accord. They blamed each other for there own faults. The illustrations in the book could have been a little more interesting but it did not take away from the storyline.… (more)
LibraryThing member conuly
This is a great cumulative story, filled with appropriate sound effects for every animal mentioned.

It does get a little long (reciting long lists of animals will do that), so it might not be best for little-little ones who cannot sit through it.

One thing to note is that this book does have a center where an owlet is accidentally killed and its mother goes into mourning. If you do not feel your child can handle this sort of information, by all means choose another book to read.… (more)
LibraryThing member acorey
This book is a very interesting Caldecott Award winner. It begins with a mosquito that tells a lie to a grumpy iguana, who places sticks in his ears to avoid hearing any more lies. A series of events leads to the death of an owlett and upsets the mother owl who refuses to call on the sun to bring the day. The lion summons a meeting and all of the animals finally discover that the mosquito caused it all. The mosquito hid to avoid any punishment and today he whines in people's ears.

This book is a very amusing myth about why mosquitoes buzz in people's ears. It was humorous at points and kept me wondering how the story relates to the title. There are also some gloomy moods that arise and therefore makes this book a very well rounded one that hits a number of moods of the reader.

This book could be used when instructing a unit on myths or personification. It will keep the children guessing why mosquitoes buzz in people's ears. It will also help in a situation of blame, since the book bounces from blaming one animal to another.
… (more)
LibraryThing member meallen1
At first I thought this book was a little odd, but once I finished reading it, I really liked it. It would be good to read in a classroom because there are good pictures and and it was repetitive so the kids can say it along with you. It also mentioned alot of animals, so you can talk about that in class.
LibraryThing member mrs.mackey
"Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears:A West African Tale" is a Caldecott medal winner. It is a book about a pesky mosquito who annoys a Iguana. The Iguana puts sticks in his ears in hopes to ignore the mosquito. In turn the python takes offense to the iguana ignoring him and so on and so on down the line this continues. During this story one of the owl's babies are killed. In the end everyone is looking for someone to blame and it turns out that they beleive it is the mosquito's fault and that the mosquito should be killed. The mosquito hears all of this and goes around buzzing in people's ears asking if everyone is still mad at him.

This is a beautifly illustrated book. The illustrator drew the pictures to resemble Africa. There is a large assortment of African animals. The story line is cute as well.

In the classroom, I would ask my students if they could draw their favorite African jungle animal. We would have fun sharing our pictures and explaining to each other why this particular animal was our favorite.
… (more)
LibraryThing member cvyork
GREAT illustrations, great book for the younger children
LibraryThing member wturnbull06
This is a good example of a folktale because it is African story that was orally passed down and it tells a story of misunderstanding that dominoed into the ending of why mosquitoes are not liked. Plot: the plot of this is strong because it draws you in by making you want to know what’s going to happen next and then if mother owl is ever going to call the sun again out if it’s always going to be night and whose fault it is. Media: mixed media… (more)
LibraryThing member mhackman
An annoying mosquito sets off a chain of events in the jungle causing chaos.
LibraryThing member KarriesKorner
In this West African Tale, the authors retell the story of animals who blame each other and then a mosquito for all their fears. The watercolor illustrations are beautiful in this book. Colorful animals adorn each page, and the details will keep kids engaged with each step of the story. The story is repetitious, and that will give younger children the opportunity to speak the story as it goes on.… (more)
LibraryThing member susiehinckley
In this African tale, a mosquito stirs up trouble and another animal ends up accidentally dying. When all of the parties involved in the owlets death are brought before the lion king, it is determined that the mosquito is at fault. Near the end of the book the mosquito buzzes the other animals ears to see how they fell about him.
I loved the artistry in this book. The pictures were done beautifully. The story is about animals but can be about humans as well.
I would use this book to teach students how what they say can affect someone else. I would also use this book to have children describe their favorite African jungle animal.
… (more)
LibraryThing member annashapiro
Poor Mosquito! It is mosquito’s fault that everything has gone wrong! Mosquito told iguana a lie, so iguana put sticks in his ears and did not hear python calling good morning. Python thought for sure something was wrong, so he hid in rabbits hole, frightening rabbit , who frightened monkey, who ran through the trees & accidentally killed a baby owl. Now mother owl is grieving so that she won’t hooooo the sun up in the morning! Lion calls all the animals together to figure out what happened. Is everyone still angry at mosquito? Yes!… (more)
LibraryThing member nieva21
The moral is culturally correct and seems easy enough for a child to understand why a mosquito is annoying; and when a mosquito is near due to it's noise that it makes.
I loved the way the pictures were watercolored in a stencil like effect, with black outlines.
LibraryThing member kaitlinc23
This book is a good example of a folktale because it involves characters that we are familiar with, jungle animals, how they interact with one another and because they are talking and discussing things like humans do. This book is passed down from person to person with no exact author of who actually told it.

Genre: Folktale
Characterization: The mosquito is the antagonist in the story, he is annoying and opposes the Iguana which in turn starts the sequence of unfortunate events in the story.
Level: Primary and Intermediate
Media: Watercolors
… (more)
LibraryThing member jenhope
This was a great book. I loved the pictures and the story. It was great to read and learn about a tall tale that is told in Africa, it would be great to use in the classroom to talk about what a tall tale is and what are other examples of them. I thought it would be great to read to the kids and have they also understand how one misunderstanding can cause unintended hurt feelings.… (more)
LibraryThing member shumphreys
This is a great introduction to African folk tales. It tells the story of a pesky mosquito that lies to an iguana and causes an enormous chain reaction between animals that ends up in the sun not rising the next morning. When all is sorted out in the animal tribunal, the mosquito is found out to be guilty and fiercely criticized. Thus when the mosquito buzzes in ears, he is always asking if everyone is still angry with him.
grade 1-6. group read. wide appeal. positives - great illustrations for group read, golden moral (don't lie)
negative - can be interpreted as too cataclysmic (with owlet dying and mosquito being hated and blamed for everything)
… (more)
LibraryThing member AuntKrissy
WMBiPE = Winner of the Caldecott, 1976. The illustrations by the husband and wife team, Leo and Diane Dillon, delight the reader, capture the reader’s attention, and develop an appreciation and awareness of African tradition and art. Primarily, the pictures establish the setting, define the characters, reinforce and extend the text, provide an interesting aside, and help establish the mood. On the copy right page of Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears the artist method is explained: “The art for this book was prepared in full color using watercolors applied with an airbrush in both fine spray and spatter technique, pastels rubbed on by hand, and india ink. The cut-out effect was achieved by actually cutting the shapes out of vellum and frisket masks at several different stages.” • This picture book can be found as an audio book featuring Emmy award winning storyteller, Bobby Norfolk; is available in Spanish. James Earl Jones narrates an animated movie of this book. The film won the CINE Competition in 1984. Genre: Traditional Fantasy—combining folktale and pour quoi qualities.… (more)
LibraryThing member kazylstra
A tale about what happens in West Africa when mosquitoes fly around and look like they are talking to people. An interesting tale for young students to read.
LibraryThing member MesserPicks
This is a great story about mosquitoes. When I got to the end, I had a huge smile on my face because it was such an adorable story. I think any younger child would enjoy listening to this book because of the repetition as the book progresses. I think the kids would like to join in and read the repetitive words along with the reader. Also, the pictures are absolutely amazing. They are so bright and bold.… (more)
LibraryThing member eevers
The art is beautiful! Possibly done with watercolor on white paper with white crayon. This could be a great story for a guidance lesson about assumptions and unintended consequences. It could also be used for WOW! Words, great verbs!
LibraryThing member pamcclak
Great book with lovely illustrations. Funny myth explaining why mosquitoes buzz in our ear and what happens.
LibraryThing member annedria
This story is about a mosquito who tells a tall tale in the iguana’s ear and the iguana ignores the mosquito by plugging his ears up with sticks. Next the python is trying to tell the iguana something and the iguana ignores him as well thinking that the iguana is mad at him. In the story a chain of events happens and causes more problems because the mosquito told a tale that wasn't the truth.

I like this story because I think it is designed to teach the reader a moral that you should not tell tall tales because it causes problems such as in the book when each animal blamed another animal for their actions.

An extension idea for this book would be to play the telephone game where the class sits in a circle and one person tells someone something and then the next and so on. This is a good idea to show that sometimes people may only hear half of the truth.
… (more)




(437 ratings; 4.1)
Page: 0.733 seconds