Book Reviews: Reads for tiny tots

2011-02-25 10:34

Reads for tiny tots
The Missing Ball

What a lovely proudly African book! The Missing Ball is the fourth in a series about the cool ­Nguni cows and calves.

The first, The Cool Nguni, was awarded the Ibby SA Award and is available in all 11 official languages. Who knew the lives of cows were so full of adventure?

In The Missing Ball, our favourite Nguni calf Gap and his cousin, Sugarbean, want to play a game of soccer before the sun sets.

Unfortunately, Sugarbean doesn’t remember where she put the ball and looks all over the house for it.

When the pot, the laundry basket and under the bed prove futile, Sugarbean decides to take the search outside.

But this quest proves more ­difficult than Sugarbean and Gap anticipated.

Maryanne Bester and illustrator Shayle Bester have written a book that is fun and teaches young ones about nature and the informal ­lifestyle in rural South Africa.

There’s Gogo’s ­melon patch, the baobab tree with its fruit, the adult males playing cards while the women head for the river to do some washing.

And the most ­important lesson here is that there will always be friends and family ­willing to help you when the going gets tough. Babalwa Shota

Publisher: Jacana
Pages: 31
Price: R110

The Tale of the Sun and Moon

Have you ever wondered why the sun shines during the day and the moon appears at night?

This book, which has simple graphics, tells the tale in an engaging manner, and captures the innocence and wonder of a child.

The Tale of the Sun and Moon by Ann Walton with illustrations by Tamsin ­Hinrichsen is set in a forest where animals, trees and rivers share Earth with bright, scorching Sun.

While all live in harmony, Sun’s constant heat makes everyone uncomfortable.

Rivers boil when he crosses them, frogs and fish get cooked, trees catch fire and flowers wilt when he walks by. Sun is nice and doesn’t mean anyone any harm, but what can he do to stop the damage he’s causing?

Enter Leopard. She decides to take matters into her paws and do something about the problem.

But as the saying goes: “Be careful what you wish for ...” – BS

Publisher: Jacana
Pages: 31
Price: R160

The Gift of Gold
It’s heart-warming to see African stories finally ­making it into the ­mainstream as far as ­children’s books are ­concerned.

This will ensure that our kids don’t grow up only believing in fluffy candy floss lands from afar.

Some people have had the pleasure of growing up ­sitting on grandpa’s knee while he weaves tales about our great continent and its people.

However, many of us have not. The Gift of Gold by Dorothy Kowen and illustrator Gillian Mathew give us a book that brings that feeling of excitement because of its narrative and illustration style.

This is the ­story of little Thandi, who lives in a village that’s ravaged by drought. When a young man has a vision that a ­chameleon will save the day, the village goes looking for one.

Thandi is the one who spots it. True to the prophecy, rain does come. This book will open the door to ­discussions about beliefs and culture.

Publisher: Jacana
Pages: 23
Price: R100

The North Star

In his author’s note, ­Peter H Reynolds writes that this book is a story for all ages, and he’s right.

This could very well be the first inspirational book for kids – and just what the doctor ordered for readers like me who ­detest the genre.

The dreamy ­illustrations are the ­perfect accompaniment to soothing – but not preachy – words.

The North Star is about a journey, one that you might be on now or thinking of undertaking or might have just started.

It’s about listening to your conscience and being brave enough to understand that the well-worn path is not necessarily the best one for you, and that journeys are full of doubts and second-guesses.

Kids will love the book because it builds one’s self­-confidence and adults wi ll find its simple sentences ­reaffirming.

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 64
Price: R140


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