Siya Kolisi (Road to Glory #3) by Jeremy Daniel

Jonathan Ball, 2018

The book starts with a scene from an international rugby match, then flips back to when Siya was 5 years old, sleeping on the floor of his grandmother’s house in Zwide township, near Port Elizabeth.  He noticed a group of men running and joking early mornings: rugby players. He wanted to be a part of it. He began exercising, changed schools (and enjoying more food available there.) Then Provincial trials, intimidating rich guys in their BMWs, hard work, a scholarship to Greys, touch rugby, his Xhosa ‘war song’ adopted as the team anthem, struggles with school-work, help from a team-mate – to keep his scholarship – selection for Eastern Province – big tournaments, an agent, Cape Town was fantastic, traditional initiation, taking adult responsibilities after his father died, marriage and fatherhood.

Big names feature towards the end. An absorbing, easy read, which should draw the reader in to stay for the 137 pages. Well-written: one so identifies with the enormous difficulties Kolisi faced as a child developing into success. There is real insight into the young child’s great challenges at every step.

Easy on the eye print and an attractive cover.
Well-thought out classroom activities are included at the end.
This is likely to be very popular.

Review by Kathy Dennehy


Skin we are in: Sesotho review

Buka – Letlalo Leo re leng ka ho lona
Bangodi – Sindiwe Magona Le Nina G Jablonski
Ditshwantsho – Lynn Fellman

Njabulo o bona lempetje sefateng, me e ya mo kgahla hobane e tjhentjha mmala ha entse e tsamaea. Njabulo o botsa Malome Joshua hore na ‘hobaneng rona re sa kgone ho tjhentjha mmala oa letlalo?’

Ha Njabulo le metswalle ya hae, base bale mmoho ka morao ho sekolo, le bona ba ipotsa potso e tshwanang; ‘hobaneng re sa tshwane ka mmala oa letlalo?’
Malome Joshua a ba hlalosetsa ka hore na bophelo bo qadile hokae.

Sindiwe Magona o ngotse pale e monate e thusang bana ho utlwisisa lebaka la mebala e mengata ya letlalo ewo re nang le yona lefatsheng. Nina G Jablonski ena o thusa ka ho re fa mahlale a saense ya diphapang tsa mmala wa rona.

Buka ena ke ya bohlokwa Afrika Borwa hobane e thusa batswadi ho qala ho hlalosetsa bana ka histori ya rona e amanang le mefuta-futa ya mebala ya letlalo lefatseng le hore bophelo bohle bo qadile Afrika.

Lynn Fellman o natefetsa pale ena ka ditshwantsho tse ntle tse re tsebisang, Malome Joshua, Njabulo le metswalle ya hae.

The guineafowl’s spots and other African bird tales

Dianne Stewart

Illustrations by Richard Mackintosh

(Penguin Random House South Africa, 2018, 2nd edition)

Traditional African folk-tales appear in this collection, and they are all about birds: Zulu, Xhosa, San, Swahili, Ovambo, Tanzanian, Burundian and more. At the end of each story is a block with information about the bird in the story (‘for birders’) and also a proverb or local saying, presented in the original language, with translation, and an explanation of the social meaning.

Many of the stories are pourquoi tales (of why something is so), like how rainforest birds acquired their magnificent colours. There are stories about birds as messengers, helpers, symbols, ill omens and good omens, small and large, modest and vain.

The author collects the tales and here retells them. Her storytelling has an effortless, flowing style.

The language is slightly formal, which suits the retelling of traditional stories, is somehow respectful to tales from another time. The author says that the stories are intended to be read aloud, for parent (or other family) and child to be enjoyed together. They are not for tiny-tots, as the stories are not sentimental, and include violence and death sometimes.

In this second edition, the pages are sturdy, the illustrations colourful. This book should encourage a knowledge of indigenous African lore, and (without any pushing by the parent) an interest in birds.

Review by Kathy Dennehy

Skin we are in: a celebration of the evolution of skin colour

by Sindiwe Magona and Nina Jablonski

Illustrated by Lyn Fellman

Also available in Afrikaans, isiZulu, isiXhosa and Sepedi

(Sesotho sa Leboa)

 (David Philip, 2018)

‘Literary stalwart’ Sindiwe Magona (with 120 books for children alone) has collaborated with palaeontologist Nina Jablonski (Penn State University) to write a story, with a scientific basis, on the colours of our skin.                                   

A boy is slightly anxious as he waits at home for classmates to join him for a school project, which must have a theme with some social relevance. He mentions to his uncle that a chameleon changes skin colour, and he would like that ability. Uncle Joshua takes the conversation to the science of skin’s evolution over the ages, as a response to the amount of sunlight where people lived. The classmates continue the conversation, and come up with a project, and a multi-language song to go with it.

Attractively placed on the pages are blocks of scientific information and infographics by Fulbright senior scholar and science illustrator Lynn Fellman, on the science of skin. For example, Melanin (which gives us colour in skin) prevents UVR from breaking down important vitamins in your blood – yet a little UVR is needed for strong bones. There is information on colour prejudice, linking this to historical European thinking, which includes two prominent 18th century philosophers.

This handsome book is printed on very strong paper, to last well. The friendly, authoritative tone of the book is likely to help establish and reinforce children’s inner confidence around skin colour, which will allow them to reject racism comfortably, and may well encourage an interest in science.

Review by Kathy Dennehy  

Gebeur dit met almal? Reguitpraat oor puberteit

Jan von Holleben en Antje HelmsGebeur-dit-met-almal-voorplat

Uit Duits vertaal deur Anthony Moen

(PROTEA, 2016)

Boeke oor puberteit word gereeld aangevra in biblioteke, en die oes was nog altyd maar dun. Hierdie aantreklike boek met pragtige fotos in kleur van tieners soms ook snaaks, is uiters nuttig en sal biblioteek en privaatversamelings doeltreffend aanvul..
Hoofstukke is ingedeel oor groei en verandering a.g.v. hormone, die verskil tussen seuns en meisies, wat liefde is versus verlilefdheid, soentjies versus seks en afgesluit met inligting oor swangerskap en die ontwikkeling van die embrio.
Die aanslag is modern, die tieners jonk en met selfvertroue gekiek wat die boek lekker lesstof vir tieners sal maak. ‘n Baie oulike boek saamgestel deur twee ervare joernaliste.

Resensie deur Lona Gericke

professor-sabatina-email_1Professor Sabatina se wetenskapboek

Elizabeth Wasserman

Illustrasies deur Astrid Castle

(Tafelberg, 2015)

Sabatina Atoom meld in die voorwoord dat die boek geskryf is om kinders aan te moedig om betrokke te raak in die wetenskap, en om van jongs af soos wetenskaplikes te begin dink. Hier is die geleentheid om eksperimente te doen, probleme op te los en selfs vir ouers om betrokke te raak by hul kinders se werk.

Die verskillende hoofstukke handel oor die wetenskaplike metode, swaartekrag, temperatuur, water, magnete en elektrisiteit, lig en energie, chemiese reaksies en wetenskaplike begrippe.

Die skrywer is ‘n wetenskaplike en bekend vir haar Anna Atoom-reeks en Speurhond Willem –reeks.

Hierdie is ‘n belangrike aanvulling tot wetenskap versamelings. Die wetenskap word toegangklik gemaak en prakties gedemonstreer sodat kinders  beter sal begryp waarom dit gaan.Daar word voorsiening gemaak vir notas agter in die boek. Die eksperimente kan met bestanddele uit ‘n kombuiskas gedoen word.

‘n Pragboek saamgestel deur ‘n kenner en met die illustreerder se hulp in die versorging ook eietyds benader. Hoogs aanbeveel.  Biblioteke sal maar verlief moet neem met die plek vir notas en hoop kinders misbruik nie die leë bladsye nie!

Resensie deur Lona Gericke