The Butterfly Heart by Paula Leyden
Walker Books, 2011. ISBN 9781406327922.
(Age: 12+) This charming story takes place in Zambia where twins Bul-Boo and Madillo live with their parents and a colourful assortment of friends and neighbours. When they discover that their school friend, Winifred, is destined for a terrible fate, the girls feel compelled to help. Bul-Boo seeks the help of Ifwafwa, the wise snake man but can he deliver a solution before it is too late? Fred, who lives next door, thinks his great grandmother can help. She is rumoured to be like a witch with magical powers but she inspires awe and terror in equal measure in the children.
The author spent her childhood in Zambia and her knowledge of local traditions, stories and customs make this story a delightful insight into the 'butterfly heart of Africa'. Superstition and logic interweave as the characters seek a solution to their problem. The story is essentially told in first person from the viewpoints of Bul-Boo, Ifwafwa and Winifred which sustains the momentum of the story. The chapters are short making it easy to read. Probably best suited to younger teens, it is a very enjoyable read.