4 out of 4 stars
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The Talking Baobab Tree is an African folktale written for children and illustrated by Nelda LaTeef. Johari is a little rabbit who finds herself lost in the sand dunes. Exhausted, she falls asleep under the baobab tree. The tree can talk, and it also hides many treasures within its trunk. When the hyena learns about the treasure, Johari finds herself in danger. Will she be able to escape her enemy and foil his covetous plan?
The first thing that struck me about this book was the author’s illustrations. I just love them! Johari is so cute, and I loved viewing all the scenery and pretty images of the African desert. Every page has something beautiful to see. I give the illustrations alone a very high mark. As a child, I would have loved to study them.
I also liked that the author included a background summary of the baobab tree and its significance to Africa. She also described the origins of the story. The Wolof people place great value on the weak overcoming the strong, hence the rabbit being in conflict with the hyena. LaTeef also incorporated a few phrases from their tribal language. I enjoyed this bit of cultural education that was shared about the tribe along with the fable.
The story itself was almost flawlessly written. I only found a single typo that can be easily corrected. Because of this professional rendering, I can easily award the book 4 out of 4 stars.
Children of all ages will likely enjoy this book. The story has a good moral that warns against greed. Parents and teachers will also find the book educational and entertaining. As an adult, I even learned a few things I hadn’t known before about the Wolof people and the baobab trees. People who value art, culture, and African folklore should definitely read this story.
The Talking Baobab Tree
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