Travel with me if you will to the Spice Islands or the Maluku Islands.Today we are going to discuss the book, The Gift of the Crocodile by Judy Sierra. This story takes place in the Spice Islands where nutmeg and cloves grow on the trees. This story was collected and retold around 1900 by G.J. Ellen, a missionary, and was published in 1916 in Woordenlijist van het Pugoe op Noord-Halmahera. (Source: The Gift of the Crocodile by Judy Sierra, Folklore Note.)
|Dried Cloves (Source)|
Malukus population is about two million which is less than 1% of Indonesia's population. Due to religious wars, many people have been killed or displaced recently.
|Maluku Province Source|
|Northern Maluku Source|
Nutmeg and cloves are still cultivated today as well as cocoa, coffee and fruit. Fishing and producing pearls are also big industries on some of the islands as well as logging, producing ironwood, teak and ebony on different islands. (Source)
Now onto our story. The story starts with a the image and scents of the nutmeg and clove trees. Living under them is Damura and her parents. Her mother teaches her to kindle the fire, cook, tend and harvest rice plants, and dance the dance of their ancestors. Unfortunately, her mother becomes ill and realizes she does not have long to live. She calls Damura to her side and tells her to remember to always be kind and respectful of all animals so they will help her throughout her life.
|Clove Tree Source|
She remembers these words as she mourns her mother. She talks to the green parrot and the lorikeet and finds comfort sharing her sadness each day with them. A woman in the village makes a beautiful doll for her and says Damura can have it if she tells her father to marry the woman. Damura takes the doll and convinces her father to marry the woman even though he thought they were happy just the two of them. The woman has a daughter of her own. At first they are nice to Damura but pretty quickly they turn Damura into their servant. She has to kindle the fire, cook, clean and weed the rice fields.
|Nutmeg on tree Source|
At some point word is put out for all the maidens to come to dance for the prince so he can select a wife. The stepmother takes the stepsister in the beautiful sarong that the crocodile gave Damura. Damura goes and cries to Grandmother Crocodile. Grandmother Crocodile gives her an entire outfit in gold and tells her to bring all of the clothes back to her at sunrise. And then Damura goes to dance for the prince with the dances she learned from her mother. The prince of course falls in love with her. As the sun rises she runs away--losing a shoe. She apologizes to Grandmother Crocodile for not having both shoes. The prince looks for the woman whose foot will fit the shoe and of course finds Damura and he takes her to the palace and marries her.
Now the stepmother and stepsister are very jealous and go to Damura saying they want to be friends again and suggest taking a boat ride. When they are out in the middle of the river they push her overboard and she is eaten by a crocodile. Then they rush back to the palace yelling that Damura has been eaten by a crocodile.
The prince goes to the river and calls for Grandmother Crocodile and tells her what has happened. Grandmother Crocodile finds the crocodile who ate her and uses magic to bring her back to life and then tells all of the crocodiles that if they see Damura's stepmother or stepsister they must eat them at once. They overheard this and ran off never to be seen again. Meanwhile Damura and the prince live happily everafter raising their children by the river under the nutmeg and clove trees.
Here is my basic worksheet filled out for this book. The blank worksheet can be found here.
Then our crafts for this week were coloring pages which can be found at these locations:
I made a clothespin doll to look like the picture in the book when she went to dance for the prince. I used wool roving for her hair and some golden fabric for her outfit. I bought a packages ages ago of clothespins in different skin colors so I will be using these for this series.
Then we made crocodile clips. I was inspired by these clips here, but made a few changes like the eyes and our painting is not as neat. They however were fun to make. For the bumps on the back, I just cut out some green scrapbook paper, however green foam would also work. Then we used green and white acrylic paint. The pom pom eyes needed to be hot glued on since the white glue was not keeping them there. That was our only issue with them though.
I had been thinking of making oranges stuck with whole cloves or play dough scented with nutmeg and cloves, but we did not get a chance to do that yet. I thought it would be fun to bring the scents in to the experience as well. There is also a tutorial for spicy pine cones here. We might try something like that with just nutmeg and cloves and see how it works. I'll keep you posted!
I hope you will join us Monday for our David McPhail book for the Virtual Book Club for Kids and next Monday for our next installment of Cinderella in Different Cultures!