Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People – A Picture Book by Verna Aardema – Fabulous Illustrations by Leo & Diane Dillon

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears
Verna Aardema
Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon
Dial Books
A Retelling of West African Tale

Before I show you this book, I want to say that this is one of my all-time favorite picture books. I love the story, but the illustration are absolutely masterful.

“One morning a mosquito saw an iguana drinking at a waterhole. The mosquito said, ‘Iguana, you will never believe what I saw yesterday.’ ‘Try me,’ said the iguana. The mosquito said, ‘I saw a farmer digging yams that were almost as big as I am.’ ‘What’s a mosquito compared to a yam?’ snapped the iguana grumpily. ‘I would rather be deaf than listen to such nonsense!’ Then he stuck two sticks in his ears and went off, mek, mek, mek, mek, through the reeds.” Aardema

“The iguana was still grumbling to himself when he happened to pass by a python. The big snake raised his head and said, ‘Good morning, Iguana.’ The iguana did not answer but lumbered on, bobbing his head, badamin, badamin. ‘Now, why won’t you speak to me?’ said the python to himself. ‘Iguana must be angry about something. I’m afraid he is plotting some mischief against me!’ He began looking for somewhere to hide. The first likely place he found was a rabbit hole, and in it he went, wasawusu, wasawusu, wasawusu. When the rabbit saw the big snake coming into her burrow, she was terrified. She scurried out through her back way and bounded, krik, krik, krik, acress a clearing.” Aardema

Because of one overreaction after another, Mother Owl’s baby was accidentally killed. The day turned to night, and because of her grief, Owl did not do her job, which was that of waking up the sun.

The result was pandemonium.
The great king and arbiter, the Lion, was brought in to restore order.

One by one, in a this-is-the-house-that-Jack-built manner, Lion retraces the events of the day.

“Then the king called for the crow. That big bird came flapping up. He said, ‘King Lion, it was the rabbit’s fault! I saw her running for her life in the daytime. Wasn’t that reason enough to spread an alarm?’ The king nodded his head and said to the council: ‘So, it was the rabbit who startled the crow, who alarmed the monkey, who killed the owlet — and now Mother Owl won’t wake the sun so that the day may come.” Aardema

Enjoy the entire story in the following video: