________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 34 . . . . May 8, 2015


From Lands of the Night.

Tololwa M. Mollel. Illustrated by Darrell McCalla.
Markham, ON: Red Deer Press, 2014.
32 pp., hc., $19.95.
ISBN 978-0-88995-498-4.

Subject Headings:
Healing-Juvenile fiction.
Brothers and sisters-Juvenile fiction.
Rites and ceremonies-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Gail de Vos.

*** /4


More guests come, followed by another angel. Before I can welcome this other angel, the dancers skip up. The second angel pulls back startled but, watching the dancers, he’s moved to dance too---first in small modest steps, then gradually in bolder motions, more and more joyfully, his long white hair flowing about.

One after another, more angels appear. One after another, all are moved to dance. Music sprays into the night, louder than ever.

Kutum-kutum-kutuk-kutum antu-porn patap-patap-patap-

A burst of light from a lamp brings the ceremony to a stop.


Disclaimer: I first heard this story as told by the author, without visuals other than Tolo’s own powerful presence and melodic vibrant voice. When reading the picture book, I only heard his voice and reclaimed the images that the story first evoked within me. It took several rereadings to fully appreciate the illustrations by Darrell McCalla, although they are definitely effective in their own right.

     Narrated by a young girl, Ra-Eli, the story of the severe illness of her young brother, Samuel, takes on a supernatural element when, on the advice of a healer, the family appeal to the ancestors for aid. They are told to hold a special ceremony with joy, and, although the idea of elation is initially difficult to comprehend, the special guests and ancestors that participate in the joyful ceremony eventually award a very positive outcome. Ironically, however, at first, the music and dancing are so loud and filled with joy that it interferes with Mola’s (God) well-earned rest. Ra-Eli’s invitation to Mola to be their guest is greeted with astonishment, but, upon its acceptance, the music and dancing and healing resumes once again. As does the joy!

     The “Author’s Note” discusses the inclusion of angels, gods and ancestors in a book intended for younger readers. He also addresses the universality of the theme of the story. This universality is aptly demonstrated through the illustrations with their warm palate and spirited characters but with very little concrete markers for setting. From Lands of the Night, a book that celebrates people and their sense of community, regardless of where they may reside, is recommended for elementary school and public library collections.


Gail de Vos, the author of nine books on storytelling and folklore, teaches at the School of Library and Information Studies for the University of Alberta.

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

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