From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3-An old man tells his grandchildren about his 10th Christmas. Rich Aunt Aida came from Nairobi with her two pet cheetahs to visit her nephew, and the two of them planned a surprise for the rest of the village. They enlisted a man to play Father Christmas, located an elephant for him to ride, and provided snow in the form of chicken feathers. Father Christmas did indeed ride into the village and gave wonderful gifts to all the children, but not in the way Aunt Aida and the boy had planned. It was one of those magical events that seem to happen only at Christmas. The vibrant mixed-media artwork contributes enormously to that magic. The varying perspectives and suggestions of texture capture the sweeping landscapes, the majestic animals, and spirited tone of the storytelling. A glossary of Swahili words is included. The colorful prose and engaging illustrations present an inventive holiday fairy tale with a unique setting.-V. W.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
K-Gr. 2. Father Christmas riding an elephant in the African bush? The British Empire did leave behind some cultural remnants, including the magic of Santa bringing gifts. Juma tells how his rich aunt from Nairobi brings presents to the village children and arranges for a local man, Ole Tunai, to dress up as Santa and arrive by elephant. The children even make "snow" in midsummer by shredding chicken feathers. Then the story takes an odd turn into magic realism with a decidedly confusing twist involving a mysterious Santa (not
Ole Tunai) who disappears with the elephant into the starlit sky. Unfamiliar terms are explained in a glossary, but what language are they? Are the people Maasai? Still, the dynamic, richly colored art provides a glimpse of a village community and the Western imports, and there's a strong sense of the east African rural landscape. Kids in hot climates will recognize the desire for snow at Christmas, and, in Africa and the West, many will enjoy the play with popular tradition. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved