?Kubuka and the Magic Calabash? will enthrall children old and young, thanks to a storyline with as many kinks and curls in it as the tail of the intrepid little monkey that it follows.
Ideal for children aged 6-12, the book is punctuated by colourful illustrations and each chapter is around ten pages long - perfect for a good bedtime story session and easily handled by speedy readers.
Only very rarely has a children's book hooked me like this one did. The story follows the little vervet monkey Kubuka who, after being tossed out of his tribe to find his own way ? part of the ?wandering time? in which all young males must partake ? falls into the trunk of a huge baobab tree while searching for food. Living in the tree is the water spirit Amanzi, who has been banished there by the evil magician of the bush, Zaka. As a result, there has been little rain and the animals and plants of the bush are dying.
Amanzi is distraught and he entrusts the little monkey with a mission: to retrieve the magic calabash from Zaka and bring it back to him. Only once the calabash is back in Amanzi?s possession, will the rains fall again on Africa.
Kubuka takes on his responsibility with the kind of spunky bravery and wily monkey humour that quickly endears him to the reader (Kubuka means ?admire? in Sindebele). On his journey to Zaka?s evil dwelling, he comes across creatures of myth and reality, who teach him the valuable lessons of courage, loyalty and, above all, keeping his sense of humour.
Bazi the hyena is especially memorable for this and will no doubt be a firm favourite among the book?s colourful characters, whom author Janet Keegans brings to life through clever dialogue and creative, yet concise, descriptions.
Growing up in the bush has instilled in Keegans a knowledge and love of the African veld and its animals that is as genuine as it is practical. Many of the references are based on real African myths: baobabs are considered dwelling places of spirits, for example. She also evokes the area around Great Zimbabwe powerfully, with its hilly piles of stones, yawning caves and the majestic ruins of abandoned stone palaces.
But not only does she tell a good story; Keegans manages to infuse the reader with her love for African folklore, the feeling that drives the story to its magical end.
With lots of laughs and thrills aplenty, ?Kubuka and the Magic Calabash? will no doubt soon grow into a legend of its own.
Title: Kubuka and the Magic Calabash
Author: Janet Keegans
Illustrated by: Jacqui Taylor
Published by: Struik
Recommended Price: R99,95