Books

Just for the kids

Pat Schwartz

Hot off the press from Jacana is a new crop of local books for read-to-mes.

THE HERD BOY
Written and illustrated by Niki Daly

The doyen of South African children’s literature has produced another gem: the story of a herd boy who wants to be president. (And why not, indeed: it’s been done before in this country) Daly manages to strike exactly the right note, never patronising his young readers. His illustrations evoke the rugged Eastern Cape terrain in which the story is set, complete with enchanting details — a butterfly here, a bird there — a wonderful way of introducing small people not only to daily life in rural areas but also to the flora and fauna of that world.

THE HAPPY PRINCE
Adapted by Carole Bloch and Margaret Sixel. Illustrated by Joan Rankin

In another in Jacana’s lovely series of retold tales, Carole Bloch and Margaret Sixel have adapted Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince, with its poignant message about caring, friendship and the true value of giving. I wept over the original time and time again as a child and I wept over this version, so beautifully complemented by Joan Rankin’s enchanting illustrations.

LOST IN THE LAND OF KACHOO
THE LION HUNTS IN THE LAND OF KACHOO
WHO IS KING IN THE LAND OF KACHOO?
Written by Tina Cotford. Illustrated by Frans Groenewald

Why do so many South African writers for young readers feel they must tell their stories, particularly about the wild, in poor verse that rarely scans and sometimes doesn’t even rhyme? Dr Seuss they are not! This is a delightful series but largely made so by Frans Groenewald’s witty illustrations. How I would love the stories to have been told in simple, vibrant prose. I recommend that you buy the books for the illustrations and tell the stories in your own words.

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