Music teachers with experience in Orff music will delight in this book and cassette ta;e of a modern folk tale for peace with roots in West African history. Elizabeth haze Vega tells this story of the fanciful Funga and Alafia tribes with two widely used West African songs as background. When the Funga tribe becomes upset with the loud singing of the Alafia across the river and decide to attack, their intentions are diverted by the water of the "laughing river" and the welcome song of the Alafia. The preface includes good factual background information on Orff music and instruments, on African culture, and on a lesson in conflict resolution. At the end, the book gives instructions with pictures for building and playing a frame drum and demonstrates hand motions for the two songs. Many pages show the musical notation: however, Orff lesson plans would be useful for teachers. The cassette has the story and music on one side and additional music on the other. Technical quality is clear for both narration and music. The tone of the :laughing river: is delightful too. Ashley Smith, a New Zealand artist, provides stylized, happy African caricature illustrations. Elementary and middle schools will find this useful for both the story and the music.
-- School Library Journal
In this lyrical folktale, two fanciful African tribes (the Funga and the Alafia) are in conflict until the laughing river bubbles melodiously into their lives, bringing fun, friendship and peace. Accurate musical notes, which create an unforgettable song by story's end, accompany each page of art and text. Also featured are dancing, singing, and drumming instructions.
-- Children's Bookwatch
As much a songbook as a read-aloud story for children, this simple tale of simple enmity between two mythical tribes--the Funga and the Alafia--finds its resolution in the joyful drenchings of rhythm, lyric and tune. Written by Orff music professional and Sonoma County resident Vega, the book describes how the two tribes find community and fun while passing over the complexly metered songs and beats of the Laughing River. With clever and bright illustrations, and an accompanying tape that is sure to have kids hauling out the wooden spoons, pots, and pans traditional to their own tribal music, this is a family book that stresses the sober answers of non-violent resolution while still maintaining a patina of glee.
-- The Sonoma County Independent