The Great Adventure by Samantha van Riet
The Great Adventure is a delightful book about 3 animal friends who want to go on an adventure. build a boat and enthusiastically set out to sea, despite being made fun of by the birds. The heavily loaded boat topples over and the friends land in the water. A kind pelican rescues them, and they are more than happy to return to the warmth and comfort of their home. Young readers will be drawn to the characters, and love their adventure expressed in fun alliteration and an entertaining humorous manner.
Revolting Things to Touch and Feel by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake
As the title states, the theme of Revolting Things to Touch and Feel is revolting. The positive is that the touch and feel element of the book will be enjoyed by toddlers. However, the images may deter them and even frighten them. Slightly older children may be drawn to the rather dismal adjectives use to describe each picture. The mirror on the last page is very authentic but ending on a note of the reader being labelled as disgusting is not positive and may undermine their confidence. It is a book best read with a dash of humour and childlike innocence.
Don’t be Shy, Bushbaby, written by Avril van der Merwe and illustrated by Heidi-Kate Greef
Don’t be Shy Bushbaby is a very informative book for children on the night life of the nocturnal animals of the jungle. The illustrations will endear the characters to the young readers. Van der Merwe describes the animals in an authentic way but adds a human touch of building each character’s qualities – there is kind giraffe, friendly monkey, overexcited elephant, playful wildebeest, rude warthog, shy zebra, wise owl and the mysterious little bushbaby.
The animals misinterpret bushbaby’s hiding from them as shyness but is revealed to be a nocturnal animal, like Owl. Owl who is portrayed with empathy and warmth and encourages Bushbaby to explore the jungle night life, and they become friends. Little readers will be drawn to their adventures and fun and games.
At the back of the book there is a note to adult readers explaining that some of the dialogue between Owl and Bushbaby is based on elements of traditional Zulu greetings. She further gives translations to help the reader better understand each word.
How Many Ways Can You Say Goodbye, written by Refiloe Moahloli and illustrated by Anja Stoeckigt
How Many Ways Can You Say Goodbye is a follow up to the popular How Many Ways Can You Say Hello. It is a wonderful story filled with imagination. A group of friends go on a fantasy journey in a hot air balloon, heading to their homes. As they disembark from the hot air balloon, they say goodbye in their various home languages, giving the readers a taste of the 11 official languages of South Africa. The author weaves in the disappointment of the young Sara, left to return to school alone. Her teacher leaves her with a message of hope and optimism imparting an important life skill for children. This book is an invitation to children to explore alternative and novel ways of engaging with one another and their world.
It Will Be OK, written by Lisa Katzenberger and illustrated by Jaclyn Sinquett
Through It Will be OK, Lisa conveys the feeling of being afraid in an extremely easy to grasp and tangible way for young children. She weaves the fear of a tiny spider, felt by an adorable Giraffe which totally immobilizes him. Fortunately for Giraffe he has an exceptional friend and coach in Zebra. Zebra teaches children in a way that is beautiful and easy to follow the qualities of compassion, empathy, and loyalty. Zebra refrains from judging Giraffe in a display of unconditional love. In a simple dialogue, with concrete examples that would certainly appeal to children, Zebra patiently coaxes Giraffe to come down from a branch on a tree and approach the spider. Most importantly Zebra listens to what Giraffe has to say. The art of listening is a crucial component of building trust. Zebra wins Giraffe’s trust who eventually joins Zebra on the ground, with newfound courage, realising he has the support of his friend. It’s a marvellous book.