How the Guinea Fowl Got Her Spots

A Swahili Tale of Friendship

  • Interest Level: Kindergarten - Grade 3
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

The Guinea Fowl and Cow are best friends. Both of them keep an eye out for Lion. When Lion threatens, each must intervene to save the other. Beautiful watercolors transform this tale into a visual delight.

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Interest Level Kindergarten - Grade 3
Reading Level Grade 2
Genre Picture Books
Copyright 1990
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Books ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2009-08-01
Reading Counts! Level 2.1
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV043000, JUV012030, JUV039060
Dewey 398.24'528618'096
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Lexile 730
Guided Reading Level L
ATOS Reading Level 3.6
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 4224
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Awards and Reviewed

Author, Illustrator: Barbara Knutson

Barbara Knutson was the award-winning author and illustrator of many children’s books, including How the Guinea Fowl Got Her Spots and Love and Roast Chicken. A resident of St. Paul and a cherished member of Twin Cities literary community, Ms. Knutson grew up in South Africa and traveled extensively throughout the world. She drew on her firsthand experiences abroad to create the rich, multicultural stories and folktales for which she became so well known. She passed away in 2005.


  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, Winner, 1990



“A playful story of a loyal little friend who defends her big friend from the king of beasts.”

School Library Journal

“Tales that value friendship are easy to promote, especially when the characters express their caring in both thought and deed. The placement of the drawings and the exquisite design create a harmony that makes this a strikingly handsome addition to folktale collections.”
School Library Journal

The New York Times Book Review

“Barbara Knutson clearly has the gift of storytelling.How the Guinea Fowl Got Her Spots is an endearing retelling of a Swahili story, in which Ms. Knutson has woven together the elements of a wonderful friendship and a traditional ‘explanation’ folktale to create a fine and appealing new story. . . she combines lively language and bold art so deftly.”
The New York Times Book Review