Wednesday, December 30, 2009

REVIEW: Precious and the Boo Hag

Precious and the Boo Hag (Anne Schwartz Books)

McKissack, P.C., & Moss, O.J.  (2005).  Precious and the Boo Hag.  New York:  Anne Schwartz Book.


Appetizer:  Young Precious is home sick with a stomachache while the rest of her family must leave to work on the crops.  Before leaving, Precious's brother warns her about Pruella the Boo Hag who will come and try to make Precious disobey their mother.

While I did like most of the illustrations and the expressions on the characters faces.  I wasn't too fond of the way Pruella was initially depicted:

I guess she didn't seem threatening enough to me.  But then, I realized, that's part of the point.  ANYONE could have been the scary, threatening, monstrous beastie that Precious had to protect herself against.

Dinner Conversation:

Precious had been up al night with a stomachache.  Since it was corn planing time, every hand was needed in the fields.  "got no choice but to leave you here," Mama said.  "Now remember, don't let nothing and nobody in this house--not even me, 'cause I got a key."

"Before he left, Brother pulled Precious to the side.  "Be sure to mind Mama, now.  'Cause if you let somebody in, you never know.  It just might be Pruella the Boo Hag."

"Precious looked out the kitchen window.  Didn't see nothing.  She peered out the side windows.  Didn't see nothing neither.  but when she went to the front window, there it was, riding on the back of a storm--the biggest, meanest something Precious had ever seen."

"Pruella is a Boo Hag--
she was right outside my window.
She's tricky and she's scary,
but I didn't let her in!"

To Go with the Meal:

While sharing a classic tale of folklore with young readers, this story has modern appeal since when many children are ill, it may be impossible for a parent to stay home to care for them.

A teacher could also focus on this story as being a folktale and could discuss how the boo hag makes appearances in many folk stories from blacks who have lived in the South.  From there, a teacher could have students ask their family to tell them other folktales about their town or region or tell stories about their families.

Yet another option would be to go the historical route and discuss farming and sharecropping and the injustices the many black farmers had to endure.

This retelling would be excellent to discuss with middle grade children how sometimes adults tell children certain stories in the hope of influencing the way kids will behave.
(Say, scaring the bah-jeebies out of a kid so they won't go near the hot oven, for example.)  In the case of Precious and the Boo Hag, the danger is strangers.  The teacher could also make a tangent into how sometimes a sibling will have fun at your expense and how sometimes a child needs to be suspicious of the stories their siblings tell them.

This can be a good book (one of many, hopefully!) for a teacher to include in their class library to share historical black culture and language

Tasty Rating:  !!!

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