| Picture Books & Early Readers | | About Aaron’s Kid Books | | Aaron’s Home Page |
| Search | | New | | Flash! | | Rights | | Contact | | Subscribe |

Caldecott Award-Winning Illustrator!

Master Man

A Tall Tale of Nigeria

Book illustration

Told by Aaron Shepard
Illustrated by David Wisniewski

Starred review, The Horn Book

Starred review, Kirkus Reviews

Starred review, School Library Journal

Shadusa is strong. In fact, he figures he’s the strongest man in the world. He tells his wife, Shettu, “From now on, just call me Master Man.” But Shettu says, “Quit your foolish boasting. No matter how strong you are, there will always be someone stronger. And watch out, or someday you may meet him.”

When Shadusa learns of someone else calling himself “Master Man,” he goes out to set the man straight. But the trouble he gets into is far worse than he or even his wife could imagine.

Read this rollicking tall tale from West Africa to find out who’s the real Master Man.

Picture book • Ages 5 & up

Aaron Shepard is the award-winning author of The Baker’s Dozen, The Sea King’s Daughter, The Monkey King, and many more children’s books, while his Web site is known internationally as a prime resource for folktales, storytelling, and reader’s theater. Once a professional storyteller, Aaron specializes in lively retellings of folktales and other traditional literature, which have won him honors from the American Library Association, the New York Public Library, the Bank Street College of Education, the National Council for the Social Studies, and the American Folklore Society.

David Wisniewski is the illustrator of the Caldecott Medal book The Golem and many more picture books. Before becoming an illustrator, he was a circus clown, and then a puppeteer. His experience in shadow puppetry led directly to his trademark illustrations in cut paper.


Hardcover ~ 2001

The following links may earn commissions for this site.

Book cover


“This tall tale of strength and size packs a double-whammy: while the fresh, funny, and perfectly paced narrative simply screams story hour, the hugely appealing visual presentation will easily win the most reluctant independent reader. With comic-book design and the attendant combination of humor and suspense, Master Man recounts the exploits of a boastful he-man who meets his match—and then some. . . . The characters in Wisniewski’s three-dimensional collage burst through the borders with great animation, and their exaggerated expressions are consistently dead‑on. The story’s original sources, taken from the Hausa in Nigeria, are documented in a detailed author’s note; the unlikely choice of illustrative style for the traditional tale proves unbeatable.”—The Horn Book, Jan.–Feb 2001, starred review

“Caldecott Medalist Wisniewski is clearly the ‘Master Man’ of paper-cut illustration, powerfully demonstrated again with the delightful illustrations for this traditional tall tale from northern Nigeria. Shepard is a professional storyteller and Wisniewski a former clown and puppeteer, and both understand all the elements of holding an audience spellbound with a successful tall tale. . . . Pull this one out to read to a group of wiggly kids, and show them the power of a masterful picture book.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Part superhero legend and part pourquois tale, the lively, well-paced story finds wonderful expression in Wisniewski’s cut-paper collages. . . . The characters’ bold expressiveness extends the story’s humor and farce and will leave kids giggling through repeated readings. Thorough source notes conclude.”—Gillian Engberg, Booklist

“Shepard and Wisniewski have created a book with wide appeal, and reluctant readers will take this title by storm.”—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“An oversized good time. . . . People, backgrounds, even words spill over the boarders of this comic-strip styled layout in reckless abandon. . . . The pacing is excellent and the narrative is vigorous and humorous.”—Carol Ann Wilson, School Library Journal, Feb. 1, 2001, starred review

“A rollicking, raucous tale. . . . Aaron’s prose is, as always, a gift to storytellers. His tales are clean, clear, lively.”—Katy Rydell, Stories, Spring 2001

“Rambunctious. . . . Shadusa’s cocky attitude and his keen sense of self-preservation make him highly entertaining. The text makes a fine read-aloud story on its own, and Wisniewski’s illustrations make it worth reading more than once.”—Kathryne Beebe, Riverbank Review, Summer 2001

“Part pourquoi tale, part superhero comic book, this book gives vibrant, leap-off-the-page life to an old tale from the Hausa people of northern Nigeria. . . . Possible applications are numerous in classes and storytelling sesions where the theme is Africa, weather, scientific principles, how-and-why stories, or stories of strength and conflict. The tale is fine orally, but don’t miss seeing and sharing these illustrations by David Wisniewski.”—The Story Bag, Dec. 2001–Jan. 2002

Sample Text

Hear This Sample Text (2:05 minutes)

When Shettu got home, she told Shadusa what had happened.

“Master Man?” yelled Shadusa. “He can’t call himself that! I’m Master Man. I’ll have to teach that fellow a lesson.”

“Oh, husband, don’t!” pleaded Shettu. “If the baby is so strong, think what the father must be like. You’ll get yourself killed.”

“We’ll see about that,” said Shadusa.

The next morning, Shadusa set out early and walked till he came to the well. He threw in the bucket—splash—then he pulled on the rope. But though he tugged and he heaved, he could not lift the bucket.

Just then the woman with the baby walked up.

“Wait a minute,” said Shadusa. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m getting water, of course,” answered the woman.

“Well, you can’t,” said Shadusa. “The bucket won’t come up.”

The woman set down the baby, who quickly pulled up the bucket and filled his mother’s calabash.

“Wah!” yelled Shadusa. “How did he do that?”

“It’s easy,” said the woman, “when your father is Master Man.”

Shadusa gulped and thought about going home. But instead he thrust out his chest and said, “I want to meet this fellow, so I can show him who’s the real Master Man.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t do that,” said the woman. “He devours men like you! But suit yourself.”

So Shadusa followed the woman back to her compound. Inside the fenced yard was a gigantic fireplace, and beside it was a pile of huge bones.

“What’s all this?” Shadusa asked.

“Well, you see,” said the woman, “our hut is so small that my husband must come out here to eat his elephants.”

Just then they heard a great ROAR, so loud that Shadusa had to cover his ears. Then the ground began to shake, until Shadusa could hardly stand.

“What’s that?” he shouted.

“That’s Master Man.”

Sample text copyright © 2001 Aaron Shepard. Illustration copyright © 2001 David Wisniewski.

| Picture Books & Early Readers | | About Aaron’s Kid Books | | Aaron’s Home Page |
| Search | | New | | Flash! | | Rights | | Contact | | Subscribe |