The Laughing River: A Folktale for Peace



A folktale for peace
by Elizabeth Haze Vega
illustrated by Ashley Smith
ISBN 978-1-877810-35-0
Hardcover, 32 pages, 10½ x 8½
Ages 5 – 12

An enchanting lyrical folktale that brings love, laughter, and peace into the lives of young and old.
Read along … Sing along … Play along with Elizabeth Haze Vega, a talented Orff musician and teacher.

The Laughing River book includes:
• Easy-to-follow music
• Instructions for making a drum
• Instructions for playing a drum
• Dance steps and hand motions to accompany The Laughing River songs.

Children love it!

The story:
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, two fanciful tribes — the Funga and the Alafia — lived beside the banks of a long and lazy laughing river. Although each tribe’s people were handsome and skilled, they were very different, and they did not get along. As time passed, the Funga grew increasingly annoyed by their Alafia neighbors’ loud singing and decided to attack and “teach them a lesson.” To reach the Alafia Village, however, the Funga had to cross The Laughing River, and what transpired there resulted in fun for all. It’s a story that fills hearts and minds with laughter and peace.

Accurate musical notes, which create an unforgettable song by story’s end, accompany each page of art and text. The book also includes dancing, singing, and drumming instructions. Orff approach.

“Music teachers with experience in Orff music will delight in this book and cassette tape of a modern folk tale for peace with roots in West African history . . . includes good factual background information on Orff music and instruments, on African culture, and a lesson on conflict resolution.” — School Library Journal


“I greet you with my mind,
I greet you with my lips,
I greet you with my heart,
and I have no weapons.”

from “The Laughing River: A Folktale for Peace”

Hear samples of the “Alafia Greeting Song” (Track #2) and other “The Laughing River” songs and music
at where you can purchase and download the music.

Or you can purchase “The Laughing River” book + CD combo by adding it to your cart now.

“A valuable teaching resource on several levels: cultural awareness, rhythm and melody, and folklore.” — Ian Thorpe, Instructor, Christchurch School of Music, New Zealand.

“A gift to the children of all nations, The Laughing River is a delightful story that will put a smile on your face and a song in your heart … uplifts the human spirit and spreads the simple yet important message of peace.” — O.J. Ekemodé, World Beat for World Peace, Nigeria

“The overall effect of the story, music and art takes you effortlessly into a holistic experience of another culture and stimulates the mind and body.” — Mary M. Michaelis, Teacher

The Laughing River is the story of two fanciful African tribes — the Funga and the Alafia — in conflict until the laughing river bubbles melodiously into their lives, bringing fun, friendship and peace. This enchanting lyrical folktale brings love and laughter into the lives of young and old.

The Laughing River is a blend of several fascinating African elements. It was inspired by an African greeting song in the Yoruba language, which is spoken in Yorubaland, a West African area within Nigeria that is inhabited by a number of different tribes. The fictitious tribes, the “Alafia” and the “Funga,” are modeled after the Yoruba people, particularly the Oyo. Inspiration was also drawn from the religious beliefs of the Bunu tribe, who occupy a region in Northern Nigeria. The song “Che Che Koolay” originated in Ghana.

The theme is peaceful conflict resolution. A valuable social studies and music education resource on several levels: Cultural awareness, rhythm and melody, and folklore.

Elizabeth Vega is a talented Orff musician, teacher and performer.

She was born in Chicago and was educated in the United States and Europe. The daughter of a musically-talented Presbyterian minister, Ms. Vega began her musical training at an early age, and in her teens, she traveled to thirteen countries, performimg vocally in international competitions. While studying in Vienna, she was introduced to, and became a devotee of, the Carl Orff approach to teaching music.

Ms. Vega holds several academic degrees, including a masters degree in education, a multiple subject teaching credential, and three level certificates in Orff instruction. Professionally, Ms. Vega enjoys combining her love of children, her unique creative and performance skills, and her dedication to the art of teaching.

About Orff Music:
The instruments you hear on The Laughing River CD are Orff instruments. Carl Orff (1895-1982) was an Austrian composer who developed a holistic approach to teaching music which uses these pitched percussion instruments. These xylophones, metallophones and glockenspiels are adaptations of African marimba/xylophones and the Balinese gamelan.

With the capacity to remove notes, these instruments are often tuned to pentatonic scales. By removing the dissonant intervals, children are given the freedom to experiment and improvise while creating pleasing harmonic sounds.

The Orff approach addresses different learning styles by allowing students to experience music on many different levels. The rhythm of the spoken word is often a starting point for teaching children a musical concept. Integrating movements, speech, songs, games, instruments, dramatics and more, the Orff approach is a delightful way to experience the Magic of Music! — Elizabeth Haze Vega

Illustrator Ashley Smith is a popular artist in New Zealand. He has traveled and worked throughout the world as painter, illustrator, designer, fabric artist, and researcher of art history

Additional information

Weight1 lbs
Dimensions8.5 x 10.5 x .5 in