The Magic Bojabi Tree

The Magic Bojabi Tree

The Magic Bojabi Tree
Dianne Hofmeyr

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847802958

Python has wrapped himself around the melon/mango/pomegranate tree with its delicious fruit, and he won't share the fruit unless the animals can tell him the correct name of the tree. Elephant, Monkey and Zebra each in turn visit Lion, who alone knows the name of the tree. But every time, the animals forget the name on the journey back to the tree. Then Tortoise, the slowest, smallest animal goes to Lion - and sings a special song to remind him of the name. It is the Bojabi Tree! Python unwraps himself from the trunk, and all the animals share a feast.

Librarian's Book choice

A joyous and exuberant re-telling of a traditional tale from Gabon is taken to another level by the fresh and lively illustrations. I love the colour palette of the watercolour washes that beautifully evoke the African landscape, and the intricately inked detail and pattern in the individual animals and the variety of decorated text types.

But these are not just flat and stylised drawings, there is real character and passion in the animals portrayed. The King of the Jungle for example, who is the only animal that knows the secret name of the tree guarded by the giant python, gets increasingly annoyed by the animals who continue to ask him the same question and his increasingly bad mood is very evocatively captured until eventually we see a genuinely scary picture of a very angry lion!

Each of the animal group who are desperate for food fails to remember the secret name by the time they return to the tree until the steady little tortoise and his lovely repetitive song manages the task and all the animals get to feast on the lovely mango-melon-pomegranate fruits.

This 'tree of life' story has many variants around the world but this is a particularly enjoyable version that gives lots of opportunities for audience participation and predictive language play with the different versions of the magic word that the animals produce. The class can enjoy making their own mnemonics for important pieces of information they have learnt. The witty, well crafted text is a delight to read and the book is a beautiful addition to any school library.

Reviewed by Joy Court, School Library Services