The Magic Bojabi Tree by Dianne Hofmeyr
Ill. by Piet Grobler. Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2013. ISBN
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Cultures. Africa. Animals. What a wonderful book to read aloud. It has all the magic ingredients to make it a classic favourite - a flowing story that paints fabulous images in the reader's mind and vibrant illustrations that bring the African landscape alive.
There is a drought in the plains of Africa and Elephant, Giraffe, Zebra, Monkey and Tortoise are desperate for something to eat. They find a magic tree that is covered with ripe red fruit but Python has wrapped himself around it and won't share unless the animals can tell him the tree's name. Each animal goes off to ask the Lion, the King its name, but each animal forgets the name when it returns to the tree until Tortoise the slowest of them all, sings a special song to help him remember.
The prose is beautifully written and the traditional story is so gripping. Each animal has a separate personality, amplified by Grobler's illustration, and the reader and listener will have fun following its path to the King, who is also portrayed magnificently. The repetition in the story will delight young readers, and it will be fun for them to see if they can remember the name of the tree when the animals forget. The detail in the illustrations make them a joy to look at again and there is lots of humour as well.
Both Hofmeyr and Grobler have been on the IBBY Honours list for their work and The magic bojabi tree will add to their illustrious reputations. This is a book to treasure both at home and in any library.