Review: Tata and the Big Bad Bull

Written in musical verse, “Tata and the Big Bad Bull” is a West Indies morality tale, with more than one kernel of wisdom about human and animal relationships and interaction.

A brave boy named Tata lives with his poor grandmother in an old house near Pellken Stream. A big blue bus takes Tata and other children to Pellken school, but the bus fare is not free for children. Tata’s Grandmother tells him she cannot afford to pay his bus fare to go to school, and this makes Tata very sad, for he loves going to school. Tata decides to try to walk through a pasture where the Big Bad Bull lives to get to school, and his grandmother encourages him.

Many scary adventures with the big, bad bull await Tata, but he perseveres in trying to discover why the bull is so angry. What he finds is a solution that pleases both Beppo, the Bull and the disgruntled villagers who blame Eugene Owl for stealing Beppo’s basket of needles and thread. Tata persuades the crowd to give Owl a second chance to apologise and make things right. Beppo Bull goes happily back to making costumes and he always lets Tata walk through his pasture.

The colorful illustrations present animals as large, almost human creatures, and contain clues and context to the secrets of the story. All the musical verse is full of cheer and specific images of common island life, as in the following: “The blue bus goes, in sun or rain, from Pellken Square across peppers’ Plain, under Beehive Tunnel, over Crocodile Pool, up Zigzag Hill to Pellken School.” “Tata and the Big Bad Bull” is an island wisdom tale with messages of compassion for all.

Nancy Lorraine is a senior reviewer at Midwest Book Review

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