This is an odd collection of folk tales from Zimbabwe and Botswana re-told by Alexander McCall Smith (with a foreword by Mma Ramotswe). Of them, I liked Brave Hunter, Children of Wax and Sister of Bones the most — my kind of fairy tales. Some others are a bit weird; and a few are rather too violent for bedtime children’s stories (although not nearly as violent as the brothers Grimm). And yet some others are worth reading if only for their deadpan endings.
The elders were surprised that such a short boy could be so brave but they remembered their promise and agreed to make him chief.
Later, when he was chief, the short boy grew taller.
The aunt was very quiet during the journey back home. The next day she was quiet as well, and she never shouted at the boy again. Being swallowed by a strange animal had taught the aunt not to waste her time shouting; now, all that she wanted to do was to sit quietly in the sun.
The boy was very happy.
The following night, many people came to see that family to help them eat the elephant meat. They ate many pumpkins too.
“Your sons are not lions,” the uncle said to the boys’ mother.
“I am glad,” she said.
Hare did not return. The girl who caught him was praised by all the animals, and was allowed to share their water. This made her happy too.