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“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read.”
Summary: Whenever Nama Kwa traveled the Forgotten Land, he always wondered why it was so barren. One day, he shared his sadness with his friend Tsela, explaining that the Great Spirit must have been very angry to leave the land in such a state. Nama Kwa’s birthday was approaching, and Tsela could see no greater gift than to transform the Forgotten Valley into a garden paradise. It would take the entire village to keep the secret and do the work. They had only 30 days; could they do it? This is a fictional story inspired by the flowering desert in Namaqualand.
Type of Reading: family reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 6 to 10; read yourself: 9 to 12
Young Reader Reaction: I personally did not like the book because of the common theme but I'm positive other children will find this story fascinating. There are various lessons to be learned and they can be interpreted in different ways. What I learned from the book is that with hard work anything can be achieved. After I finished the story I had a sense of inspiration in me because of the spirit and enthusiasm the characters had.
Adult Reader Reaction: The story is refreshing, with bright, colorful illustrations that leave you feeling hopeful. Even though you’re sure you know how it ends, you’ll still find yourself caught up in the suspense. You can close your eyes and envision the desert garden even as the seeds are being planted.
Pros: The book is well written with astounding descriptions and captivating illustrations. This is a very visual story, with descriptions that make it a perfect read-aloud book in a group setting. Children of all ages will likely enjoy this book.
Cons: It has so many African words it might be difficult for a child to understand. The glossary does help, but having the word definitions on the page would be much easier.
Borrow or Buy: Definitely borrow. The story is one that you can read all in one sitting or parse over several nights. The pictures also let you tell the story without reading a word!