Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Night Before Christmas in Africa by Jesse, Hannah, and Carroll Foster

Ok, so this was in interesting idea, and valiant effort. A little boy in Africa is longing for rain. A man dressed in red and driving a cart pulled by six kudu and a rhinoceros arrives, bringing gifts for the family. Then as he departs, the sound of thunder is heard in the distance. It could have worked but there were two problems. One is the authors used a variety of African words, and instead of defining them in footnotes, they he make the reader turn to the back of the book and look them up in a glossary. The second is that the authors are not exact in their rhyme and meter. Anyone can make a poem that sounds like The Night Before Christmas most of the time. The magic happens when the words fit into the rhyme and meter exactly. Whenever it misses it feels like a stumble. The illustration is done in rich, warm colors with underlying textures. They do a good job looking hot and African. Here again, though, there is a problem. The people in the book look like cappuccino-colored American blacks rather than the ebony colored true Africans. Oh well.

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