BOOK REVIEWS: Adventure-filled books for kids


The Big Flower by Yves Pinguilly,
Illustrated by Maja Sereda


32 pages

R115 at


All the way through reading this book my daughter Lathi wanted me to rename the main characters, Palesa and Dylan. They were to be called Lathi and Mukhovhe, after her cousin. She really lived in the story and the book has taught her a whole lot more about sizes and colours – and also more about the interaction between parents and kids. Since she started reading it, she identifies more surroundings and situations, having met favourite new characters – such as a guy selling brooms – taxis and dogs. She learnt about new colours, such as brown, which she wasn’t familiar with. She’s more taken than ever with red, green and yellow. Thanks to the illustrations, she could distinguish different sizes of houses, bags, people, flowers and so on. She was amazed that people have eyes of different colours, which she picked up from the illustrations. She loved the part where she could see what other kids were drawing in class. I’m not sure that she gets that the flowers sleep. I had to explain that a few times, but she gets a whole lot about this colourful book.

The Lemon Tree by Katherine Graham, illustrated by Wendy Paterson

Penguin Random House

32 pages

R66 at


This has become one of Lathi’s favourite books, both the story and the beautiful illustrations. When the pictures are this good, she does a lot less listening and asks a lot more questions.

The first thing she asked was what the cakes were doing on top of the roof ­(actually, they’re pumpkins).

Why is Gogo so small? Why does Gogo always bend over when she looks at the stove? And what’s up with the neighbour’s cheeks? Why are they so round when she laughs? Does she have something in her mouth?

At first she thought ­Sipho had been bitten by a dog because he was sitting next to a dog when he was hurt by the lemon tree, but she got it when I showed her that it was the lemon tree’s thorns that had hurt Sipho.

I don’t think that Lathi has grasped the concept of ubuntu as yet, a theme emphasised in this book.

I think it’s too soon for a three-year-old, but eventually, with repeated reading and experience, she will understand.

For the time being, it’s all about baking the cakes, Lungi and Sipho playing in the mud and all of them eating the cake.



Servant Leadership: The Path to Success by Mookgo Solomon Kgatle

AcadSA Publishing

194 pages

R118 at (ebook)

R206 at (paperback)


Most books on the subject of leadership or management offer a predictable blend of advice grounded in common sense, generally suggesting simple strategies for getting along well with others while being an effective executive. What makes this book unique is that it paints a portrait of integrated biblical principles of leadership. Servant Leadership is written by Solly Kgatle, an academic, author, pastor, life coach and conference speaker.

He offers a compelling dissection of two styles of leadership: the decision-making model and the path-goal model. He shares powerful key elements of servant leadership styles, misconceptions, principles and models that develop leaders at all levels of the organisation – or anyone with aspirations of being a leader.

Today, says Kgatle, we live in a world where there is a lack of servant leadership. For him this is a global issue and so his book seeks to provide solutions for leadership problems in a broader – notably African – context. “Servant leadership is built on a moral and ethical authority rather than the control of others. It embraces humility, suffering, kindness, sacrifice and service,” he writes. For the author, Jesus is one of the greatest models of servant leadership.

One of the five leadership misconceptions the author writes about is kinship, which he defines as “blood relationships”. Because of kinship, people can occupy leadership positions that they are not qualified for, which deprives others of the positions. He gives an illustration from the Bible, about James and John who thought that they could easily ascend to higher levels because they were very close to Jesus.

Kgatle also advises leaders to fight instances of racism when they arise within an organisation. This is imperative, where transformation is of utmost importance to correct the injustices of the past.

“Leadership is not measured by the level of education but by the level of relationship with the followers,” writes the author. As a pastor in a rural area, he had to adjust to what he had studied in a Western context and reinterpret it to be relevant to Africans. This is a quality that is lacking in many leaders. The author comments that “a leader must be able to relate with a cleaner as much as they can relate with top management”.

The author shows that in servant leadership the way to go up the career ladder is to first go down. “In black [African] culture, for example, a person cannot claim to be humble until there is an act of humility. If a person observes the rules and regulations of that culture, they are seen as humble.”

What resonates as you read is that the world is seeking humble servant leaders who are team builders.

A servant leader, writes Kgatle, leaves a legacy of service. Servant Leadership can take the ordinary and human in all of us and help us become better leaders, and this book invites all of us to find what kind of leader we can truly be. – Esnath Muzenda



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