From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2-A warm, heartrending story set in Tanzania. Bernardi loves to play soccer and to hum a song that his grandfather taught him before the man lost his voice. Babu fashions toys out of bits of tin and scraps of wood that the boy collects and then sells them at market. Together they make enough to live on but not to pay the fees required to send Bernardi to school. One evening Babu surprises his grandson with a music box he has made that plays their favorite tune. A tourist in the market is intent on buying it even though Bernardi insists that it is not for sale. Finally, the amount she offers is enough to buy a coveted soccer ball and the temptation is too great to resist. He has second thoughts, however, and tearfully hands over the money to Babu, who uses it to enroll Bernardi in school. The man has also fashioned a homemade soccer ball from string and a gunnysack and begins to work on a new music box. The tale is told with economy of language but with heaps of feeling. The characters come to life and their loving relationship and lean lifestyle are described with dignity and respect. Boyd's impressionistic watercolors capture the rich colors of the countryside and the market and effectively convey the story's emotions. Babu's Song will resonate with a wide range of readers.Luann Toth, School Library Journal
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PreS-Gr. 2. Bernardi lives in a Tanzanian village with his grandfather, Babu, a mute toymaker. Bernardi loves to play soccer with the local schoolboys, but he doesn't have enough money to attend class. When Babu presents Bernardi with a music box that plays a special melody Babu once sang, the boy is joyful and cherishes his gift, until he's offered a large sum for it at a street market and sells the box. Guilt-ridden, he's unable to buy a coveted soccer ball, as he had planned. At home, he confesses to Babu, who comforts him with a handmade soccer ball and then spends the money on a wonderful surprise: a uniform and school tuition. Stuve-Bodeen skillfully avoids sprinkling too much sweetener on her nicely paced story of wish fulfillment. Children will easily recognize Bernardi's struggle between his own desires and pleasing his family, and Boyd makes a striking picture-book debut with appealing, color-saturated watercolor spreads that capture the contemporary village setting and the affection between the boy and his grandfather. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved