Review Blog

Oct 29 2014

Gezani and the tricky baboon by Valanga Khoza

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Ill. by Sally Rippin. Ford St., 2014. ISBN 9781925000740
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Africa, Baboons, Deception. Gezani is told to take some bananas to his cousins in the next village. He dances along with the bowl of fruit on his head, singing as he goes, but he attracts the attention of the baboon. The baboon asks Gezani if he can carry them for him, but Gezani declines. The baboon then tells Gezani that he is thirsty so the boy offers to get some water for him. Returning he finds the baboon has tricked him and eaten all the bananas. So the boy must work out how he can trick the baboon in return, regaining the respect of his family and community. He works out a clever plan to have the baboon steal some peanuts from the peanut farm and trap himself inside the fence where he can be found by the owners.He teaches the baboon a lesson he will not forget and Gezani has learnt a lesson about being tricked, and who he can trust, as well as taking his responsibilities seriously.
The role of the trickster is a strong theme in African folk tales, and this book introduces the role of such an animal to Australian younger readers. Niki Daly's The herd boy (2013) introduces the nature of these animals, and Night watch (2013) by Phil Cummings includes a baboon in his array of animals on watch for danger.
Rippin's illustrations are a delight, she has used bold colours reminiscent of African illustrations to ensure the images of Gezani and the baboon are fixed firmly in the minds of the readers. The naive style with its lack of background still manages to recreate an identifiable image of the boy and his family and where they live. Fran Knight

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