Volume II Number 1
October 20, 1995
Tololwa M. Mollel. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis.
Toronto: Stoddart, 1995. 32pp, cloth, $18.95
Preschool - grade 3 / Ages 4 - 8.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.
Oli didn't want to eat his ugali. He didn't want to take his nap. He
wanted to go bird hunting in the woods with his big brother Mbachu. His
mama said no.
"You are too little," she told him.
So begins the tale of Oli, a little boy in Tanzania who yearns to be big
and go on adventures. The story is based on a motif found in African
folklore, but the setting is contemporary. It is yet another beautifully
told tale by Tololwa M. Mollel, author of the haunting book The
Orphan Boy, as well as Rhinos for Lunch and Elephants for
Supper, and The Hare and the Tortoise.
When Oli steals out of the house and encounters the magical bird
Tunukia-zawadi, he is frightened but mesmerized. Tunukia-zawadi grants
Oli's wish to be big as a mountain and strong as the wind, and
he immediately goes out into the world to flaunt his new-found prowess.
But his giant size is out of tune with his environment, and he causes
disruption for people, animals, and nature. Then all he wants is to
return to being what he was, and when this wish is granted he returns
safely home to the arms of his loving family.
Oli gets to experience every child's dream -- of being bigger and
somehow superior to everyone else, if only for a while. The shattering of
his illusions makes him realize that he has to grow up emotionally and
physically to be able to handle the responsibilities that come with size,
and that the stages of life cannot be rushed. He comes to appreciate and
miss the safety, warmth, and guidance that a family can provide.
The book is sprinkled with words in Kiswahili , Tanzania's
national language, and a glossary of terms at the back explains their
meaning. The use of Kiswahili adds authenticity to the story, as do the
illustrations by painter E.B. Lewis. Lewis's work captures the earth-tone
beauty of the country, the life of the villages and the animals, and the
detail of the main characters.
This book will be a welcome addition to every story collection.
Harriet Zaidman is a Winnipeg teacher/librarian..
Copyright © 1995 the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is
maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
The Manitoba Library Association
Go back to CM Welcome page
Go back to Table of
Contents for this Issue