Reviews for Kenya Christmas


Booklist Reviews 2003 September #1
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. ((Reviewed September 1, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Spring
Juma and his aunt Aida plan a special Christmas celebration for their Kenyan village, but their Father Christmas never makes it--so who was the red-suited man on the elephant? Exactly why this western custom (red suit, snow, presents) is important to the villagers is never explained, and the whole is betrayed by too much contrivance. The mixed-media art is sophisticated and often dramatic. Glos. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2003 November #1
In this original tale set in Kenya, an old man named Juma recounts the story of a special Christmas when he was ten. His rich aunt Aida came to visit and promised to help her nephew fulfill his Christmas wish to see Father Christmas in person. She provides a red Father Christmas costume and Juma is to arrange for a man to wear the costume and ride through the village on an elephant. The celebration takes place as planned, but in the surprising conclusion, the man who was to wear the suit shows up to apologize for missing the event. The villagers look up, stunned, to see a huge elephant crossing the sky with Father Christmas on his back. The well-crafted story has the ring of a folktale, and the clever twist of the real Father Christmas's appearance will delight children as they discover his true identity. The stunning illustrations employ bold swatches of color against dark backgrounds with a variety of textures and underlaid patterns. Includes a glossary of terms. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2003 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2003 September #4
The unusual locale, genial storytelling and edgy, mixed-media art differentiate this Christmas tale. As he does every year, Juma wishes to see Father Christmas, who has never come to their remote village. (And why not, those who still believe in Santa may rightly ask.) But this year, rich Aunt Aida from Nairobi arranges for a villager to arrive on an elephant, dressed like Santa, and holiday magic ensues. Johnston's (The Ancestors Are Singing) colorful details, most notably Aida's pet cheetahs Pomp and Circumstance, camouflage an otherwise foreseeable plot. And Jenkins's (Malcolm X: A Fire Burning Brightly) art-sturdy graphics built up of delicate layers of bold colors, along with dynamic portraits of both the human and animal characters-commands attention. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2003 October
K-Gr 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.

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