Sunday, March 28, 2010

Apologies for the enforced silence. I was learning all there is to know about extremely colicky babies. Of course my dear little person is now a toddler, so I am as much in the dark as ever about raising a child, but at least I am beginning to carve out a few hours for myself with more regularity. I hope to keep up with a couple of blog posts a week to start, and see how things go. Thank you all for being so patient. Normal service will now resume!

I am breaking myself in gently here - starting with a children's picture book. Appropriate both because it is where I left off when I took my little sabbatical, and also because the daughter loves hippos and this is the story of how hippo came to spend her days in the water and her nights on land.

HOT HIPPO by Mwenye Hadithi and Adrienne Kennaway is one of a series of picture books exploring how animals developed their various characteristics. I am not sure whether Mwenye Hadithi himself actually exists. "Hadithi" means "story" in Swahili, and is the East African equivalent of "anonymous" and no doubt the root of the name has some grounding in the Arabic "hadith", roughly meaning "information." I suspect this is a pen name, and - aha! - the title page shows the text is by Bruce Hobson.

Hippo was hot. He sat on the river bank and gazed at the little fishes swimming in the water. If only I could live in the water, he thought, how wonderful life would be. So he walked and he ran and he strolled and he hopped and he lumbered along until he came to the mountain where Ngai lived. Ngai was the god of Everything and Everywhere...

Adrienne Kennaway has produced the most wonderful watercolour illustrations of a plump, round hippopotamus which cannot fail to engage, and the book is full of gentle humour. I adore this book. It is my favourite of the series and I can't recommend it highly enough. I would imagine it is most suitable from about 4, but even my 21 month old likes looking at the pictures. At 17 months I found her, mouth agape, in front of the bookshelf and knew exactly which book she wanted to read!

Strangely, HOT HIPPO goes in and out of print (it is not available in South Africa at the moment, for example) I consider it a classic and think it should remain permanently available. If you live where it is unavailable, consider ordering it from Africa Book Centre, which posts worldwide, and give yourself brownie points for supporting an independent bookshop. In fact, to celebrate 21 years in business, they currently have 30% - 70% off more than a thousand titles, but only until the end of the month.

More meaty adult titles to come...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Nichola,

lovely to see you're back online!


8:05 p.m.  
Anonymous David said...

ZOMG she's BACK!

10:47 a.m.  

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