Sunday, February 22, 2009

Review: "Sikulu & Harambe By the Zambezi River"

In Sikulu the Spider and Harambe the Hippo By the Zambezi River, the titular friends come to the aid of an older woman whose clothes have washed into the river after other animals won't. According to Nigerian-born author Kunle Oguneye, it's a retelling of an African folktale which parallels the biblical Good Samaritan story. This version emphasizes receiving a reward for good behavior and putting aside personal comfort in order to help someone.

It's always great to find storybooks set in other countries, and this one even has a set of pages in the back with information about Zambia and the animals, words, and people found in the book. This is the first in a planned series of books that will take Sikulu and Harambe to other African countries. The pictures are cute, although I found whatever method was used to color them distracting.

Bottom line? It's no instant classic, but I liked it.

My three-year old really liked this book. We happen to have a spider and hippo in our stuffed animal collection, and bringing them out helped him connect to the story. He dubbed them Sikulu and Harambe and made sure the spider rode around hanging onto the hippo's ears, just as Sikulu does in the pictures. He even carried both animals and the book to daycare to share with his friends. (His daycare provider gave the book a thumbs up.) Some of the book's novelty has worn off now, but it is still in regular rotation and receives a warm reception.

( published by Blue Brush Media, 2008, preschool/early elementary, $15 at they also sell stuffed spiders and hippos--or $11 at Amazon)

Review courtesy of Parent Reviewers--I received a free copy of the book. is an affiliate.


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