Friday, April 06, 2007

For light relief, and to complete my African set of Niki Daly picture books, I ordered PRETTY SALMA in my last package from the Africa Book Centre.

I've read confusing descriptions of this title, variously describing it as "South African", "Ghanaian", inspired by Anansi stories and by Little Red Riding Hood. Hmmm. In reality, the author/illustrator is South African, but the story has a distinctly Ghanaian flavour. Daly's South African books have beautifully realised naturalistic illustrations, highly appropriate for the subjects covered. PRETTY SALMA has more stylized, but nevertheless effective, imagery all pointing to life in West Africa.

Based on the Little Red Riding Hood story, Salma is sent to market by her granny. With shopping completed and ignoring all of granny's dire warnings, "instead of going straight home, she day-dreamed and dawdled into the wild side of town" where the wily Mr Dog neatly divests her of all her belongings and partially therefore her identity. But Salma knows where to go for help - to her grandfather who, dressed as Anansi, is telling stories. With help and various accoutrements (an atumpan is a Ghanaian talking drum) they set off to rescue granny from becoming "granny soup":
Salma picked up Anansi's atumpan and beat it loudly,
Goema goema! Grandfather picked up his rattles
and gave them a fierce shake, Shooka shooka!
Little Abubaker, who loved
a good story, joined in with
clapping sticks, Kattack-attack!
"Let's go!" cried Salma.



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