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SIKULU AND HARAMBE BY THE ZAMBEZI RIVER: An African Version of the Good Samaritan Story

Author: Kunle Oguneye

Illustrator: Bruce McCorkindale

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Publisher: Blue Brush Media,

Material: hard cover

Summary: While Sikulu (spider) and Harambe (hippo) are playing hide and seek, they see an old woman fall into the Zambezi River. When she falls, all of her clothes start floating downstream. She asks a fish, a stork, and even an elephant to help her, but they refuse. Without asking, Sikulu and Harambe retrieve her clothes, and in return receive a great reward. This is an illustrated version of the Good Samaritan story, with an African theme.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, playtime reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 7 to 10

Interest Level: 4 to 8

Reading Level: 3.8

Age of Child: Read with a nearly 8-year-old girl.

Young Reader Reaction: Our daughter loved this story and wanted to read it again. She predicted that the other animals would be sorry for being "so mean" and was very surprised to see the beautiful gifts that Sikulu and Harambe received.

Adult Reader Reaction: This is a wonderful story. There are several layers to the story: Sikulu and Harambe's friendship, the vices of the other animals (laziness, conceit, egotism), and the rewards of a random act of kindness. The author did an outstanding job bringing the other animals in at the end. They were jealous, but their response went beyond the material gifts. They learned a lesson about being kind.

Pros: Endearing animals and a universal story offer readers of all ages an enjoyable story and wonderful information about Africa.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a beautiful story that whose meaning will deepen with time for young readers.

If You Liked This Book, Try: NAMA KWA'S GARDEN  

Educational Themes: Children from preschool to third grade can enjoy this book. There is the story itself, which offers themes of friendship, community, and choices; but you can talk about folklore, universal truths, and study Africa, too.

Notes: We received this book at Book Expo America, 2009.

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, fables and folklore, multicultural, Christian

Date(s) Reviewed: August 2009

Other Reviews:


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