________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 7 . . . . November 21, 2008

cover Nephetiti & Sweetie Go to the Zoo.

J. Nichole Noël. Illustrated by Akenyemi Eludotin.
Mississauga, ON: The Write Words Publishing, 2007.
37 pp., pbk., $10.00.
ISBN 978-0-9736138-1-0.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Linda Ludke.

*½ /4


Sweetie Sweetie Chalda Mahli Gee is a little Canadian girl, her parents are from New Delhi. Her best friend is Nephetiti and her parents are from Zaire. Nephetiti and Sweetie are neighbours.

They met in the Principal's office, on a snowy day. It was Nephetiti's first day at school. Sweetie was sent to the office for throwing a snowball which was against the rules.


The "Adventures of Nephetiti and Sweetie" series aims to explore "the essence of true friendship between children of different ethnicities as they stand together through thick and thin and mishappenings." In this book, Nephetiti goes to the zoo decked out in her favourite "humongous banana hat." A gift from her Grand-mere Zuzu, the hat also has the ability to make monkeys "chitchat."

     At the zoo, people laugh and stare at Nephetiti's outlandish head wear. The crowd's jeers turn to cheers when the monkeys break their silence and start chanting, "Ma petit Nephetiti did you come to see us? Trois mains de banane, oh they are looking so scrumptious." When Nephetiti shows she can talk to the animals, "people stopped making jokes about her, finally realizing it was wrong to tease."

internal art

     The message of appreciating differences would be stronger if the hat wasn't presented in such an exaggerated manner. It is described as being able to "shelter at least five children in any kind of weather." In one illustration, the hat barely fits inside Papa Gee's car and stretches out the windows like wings. When Sweetie's father reassures the girls by saying "some people just do not understand," he doesn't talk about individuality or self esteem, but instead he focuses on the hat's magical abilities.

     Many of the cartoon illustrations look incomplete. Several still have rough sketch lines on characters' faces that have not been erased. Some of the same pictures are repeated as many as three times.

     The highlights of the story are the passages that explain why the hat is so special to Nephetiti. Unfortunately, the text only hints at the tales Grand-mere shared about her childhood spent exploring the jungles of Zaire. Sometimes the focus of creating a "social issue" book gets in the way of telling a good story.

Not Recommended.

Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.