________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 3 . . . . September 29, 2006


Limpopo Lullaby.

Jane Jolly. Illustrated by Dee Huxley.
Vancouver, BC: Simply Read Books, 2006.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-894965-58-2.

Subject Headings:
Floods-Mozambique-Juvenile fiction.
Limpopo River-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 6 / Ages 3-11.

Review by Ruth Scales McMahon.

**** /4


Aimee squealed and ran to Leroy joining him in his dance of delight

Tiny rivulets shook hands and flowed silently over the warm earth, turning the loose powder to gravy.

Josette smiled and danced awkwardly. She rubbed her tummy tenderly, as her dress soaked up the rain.

And the rain fell.

Slowly and silently the Limpopo River rose, and the muddy waters swallowed everything in sight. All night the rain drummed a long-forgotten rhythm on the villagers' roofs.

In March 2000, a cyclone swept across southern Africa. This cyclone caused the flooding of the Limpopo River and devastated Mozambique. Out of this tragedy came the news that Sofia Pedro, (having sought refuge in a tree for four days with three other members of her family) gave birth in a tree to a baby girl, Rositha.
internal art

     As the mother of a 14-month-old in March 2000, I was in extreme awe of the strength, perseverance and emotional fortitude displayed by this woman who could seek sanctuary in a tree for four days during a flood and then give birth, while caring for other family members. Obviously I was not the only person awestruck by this story. Jane Jolly, Australian and first time author, has taken the details of this story and produced an exquisitely poetic version for our youngest readers/listeners.

     Jolly's language is powerful yet sympathetic and lyrical; her treatment of the subject is tender and honest. In few words, the emotions of the characters are compellingly conveyed, and the setting of the swelling Limpopo is transfixing.

     The artistry of Dee Huxley, a celebrated Australian illustrator, is a perfect marriage for Jolly's text. Her pastel and coloured pencil illustrations fill the page, and the vibrant colours and beautiful faces demand our attention and draw us deeper into the plight of our characters.

     Initially, I wondered at the word “lullaby” in the title, but realized, after consulting the definition of lullaby, the text is almost melodic and has a comforting lulling style. Our daughters loved the book and demanded it be read several times on our first look at it.

     Limpopo Lullaby is a great book for all libraries: historically, artistically, and for entertainment.

Highly Recommended.

Ruth Scales McMahon is a professional children's librarian, the co-chair of the Rocky Mountain Book Award and the mother of two young children.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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