Review by The Mole
12 year old Fred has a Grandmother, Nokokulu, who is a witch. He also has twins Madillo and Bul-Boo for neighbours and class mates. When Fred's Aunt Kiki goes missing along with 7 other patients from the AIDs clinic where the twins parents work we enter a world of witchcraft and 'mumbo jumbo'. Bul-Boo is all logic and science and is trying to bring everyone down to earth while Madillo and Fred are caught up in old beliefs.
I found this book very difficult to get started. It was a cultural thing I suspect. We are introduced to the players by way of Bul-Boo and her school experiences and it felt like we were dealing with a first or second year child. The 'voice', the teacher, the teacher's methods and subjects. The thing that was lacking was a simple statement of their ages which I found in the online synopsis but not in or on the book.
**Update** In conversation with the author it has become apparent that there is a presumption that you met the characters before in The Butterfly Heart
- as I haven't read this book I tested the book's ability to stand on it's own and found a slight weakness - sorry **
However when I did 'get in to it' I found it to be a very good story, very well done and difficult to put down. Was it witchcraft or was it science and logic? That is something the reader should decide for themselves. It's an enjoyable book well worth reading. Having got to the end the beginning takes on a new perspective into Zambian culture.
This story is an adventure/thriller that is but one thread in the tale - another thread happens 'off camera' so to speak - but the reader is left intrigued by the thought 'Did the story told cause or permit the other thread to happen?' - science or witchcraft? Targeted at 9+, I think much of the '+' market will enjoy this too.
Publisher - Walker Books
Genre - Children's thriller
Buy The Sleeping Baobab Tree