Impressions of the lives of three hospital doctors

2010-05-12 00:00

LOCAL artist — painter, ceramist and photographer — Thomas Vermeulen has added another string to his bow. With the publication in the United States of Gabangani Guinea Fowl and Huzu the Bird Eating Spider­, he has become a children’s author.

Gabangani tells the story of a guinea fowl chick: small, impetuous and not yet flying. He regularly gets into scrapes, and gives his mother grey feathers. But when he meets Huzu, the bird-eating spider who came to the African bush via a banana­ leaf on a ship, things take a turn for the worse.

The story is set in the tropical bush of KwaZulu-Natal, and as Gabangani and his mother struggle to outwit Huzu, they meet up with their friends who include Bomvu the Red Bishop bird, Khulekani the Malachite­ kingfisher and Bhamuza the spider-hunting wasp. Together, they manage to outwit the nasty intruder in their paradise.

Vermeulen has illustrated his tale with his own, brilliantly coloured pictures, many manipulated into his trademark kaleidoscope images. The reading level of the story would be that of a 10 to 12-year-old, but it would make a good read-aloud book for younger children.

Although Vermeulen has gone the route of publishing in New York, the book should have a strong local appeal, with birds and insects that local­ children can recognise and relate to. It can be ordered through South African booksellers, or from Internet stores such as Amazon, or a message can be left on Vermeulen’s website at www.thomasver• Gabangani Guinea Fowl and Huzu the Bird Eating Spider by Thomas Vermeulen is published by Eloquent­ Books.

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