Reviews for Stork in a Baobab Tree : An African Twelve Days of Christmas


Booklist Reviews 2011 December #2
"On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a stork in a baobab tree." Far from the generic view of Africa as one picturesque place, this lively picture-book version of the Christmas carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," blends African and Christian elements in spreads that count across 12 different African countries, starting with one stork in Botswana and moving on to two huts in Zimbabwe, five khangas in Uganda, and 11 dancers in Morocco. Each bright, acrylic painting of a particular setting includes a brief note about the country and culture represented. Some people portrayed in the images dress in Western style, some are in traditional clothes. And the six women pounding a traditional meal of maize in Mali are pleased to use an electric grinding mill. House has lived with her family in several African countries, and the pages show the continent's rich diversity, old and new, as well as universal joys, including a newborn baby. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2011 November #2
This misguided effort offers explanations of many aspects of traditional African cultures within the structure of the oft-parodied holiday classic, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." In this version, the first day of Christmas brings a stork in a baobab tree, with an accompanying paragraph of explanatory text focused on southern Africa. Subsequent days of the celebration bring thatched huts, wooden carvings and traditional drummers, dancers and storytellers. A young couple and their baby appear in several illustrations, cleverly integrating the Nativity story into the art. Each double-page spread offers a vibrant illustration of ever-growing numbers of characters, with the corresponding line of the song flowing through the illustration. A paragraph or two of text explains each new gift, often tied to the Christmas holiday celebrations (for example, the wooden carvings are Nativity sets). However, these explanatory asides imply that all Africans are Christians who celebrate Christmas, and there is a distinct implication that "traditional African culture" is the way that all Africans live today and is consistent throughout the continent. An author's note indicates which countries correspond to each illustration, but there is no map to help put this information in perspective. The arresting illustrations and the reworked version of the song are intriguing, but the insensitive cultural inferences and unclear or incorrect text are serious drawbacks. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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