________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 21. . . .February 3, 2012


Juba This, Juba That.

Helaine Becker. Illustrated by Ron Lightburn.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2011.
24 pp., hardcover, $19.99.
ISBN 978-0-8877-6975-7.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 2-6.

Review by Myra Junyk.

*** /4



Juba up, Juba down,

Juba running all around.

Juba here, Juba there,

Juba goin' to the fair.


Juba is about to fall asleep when he sees a beautiful yellow cat on his window sill. As the stars twinkle in the background, Juba follows the cat on a magical adventure. They arrive at a fair where they see the House of Mirrors. They dance and laugh out loud. They guess the number of jelly beans in an enormous jar and take a ride on a roller coaster. When they are finally tired out, the pair walks home from the fair with lots of souvenirs cotton candy, a balloon and a bear. At home, they fall fast asleep as the full moon. with a cat-like face, looks down on them.

internal art     Helaine Becker's Juba This, Juba That uses the "juba" rhythms as a basis for her story. These rhythms originated in Nigeria as hand-clapping games. When the peoples of Nigeria were transported to the New World as slaves, they fought very hard to keep their culture alive. The "juba" rhythms of their homeland were transformed into songs passed down through the generations. This picture book is based on one of these popular songs. Although this picture book has less than one hundred words in total, the strong beat and repetition will definitely hold the attention of young children.

      The brightly coloured illustrations are vibrant and evocative of a dream-like experience. The young boy and his mysterious cat are connected by colour since the boy has a yellow collar and cuffs on his red pajamas, and the cat's fur is yellow. The fairground is bursting with colour with yellow and blue fireworks exploding overhead, purple and green curtains in the House of Mirrors, multi-coloured toys as prizes and swirling bluish shapes on the roller coaster. The fun-filled fair is a delight for the eyes of readers as well as the intrepid pair.

      Juba This, Juba That could definitely be used as a read-aloud for children at home and with students in primary classrooms. Becker's story will inspire discussion about issues as far ranging as dreams, rhythm, rhyme, opposites, fairs, dancing, mirrors, roller coasters and friendship.


Myra Junyk, of Toronto, ON, is a literacy advocate and author.

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

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