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The Magic Bojabi Tree from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Publishers Weekly Review

“Set long ago on a parched African plain, this folktale retelling follows five animals whose 9781847802958search for food leads them to a tree “covered in red, ripe fruit smelling of sweetest mangoes, fat as melons, juicy as pomegranates.” Unfortunately, “the largest python the animals had ever seen” is coiled around its trunk, and the snake won’t budge until the animals provide the correct name for the tree. Zebra sets off to get the answer from Lion, but forgets it on the return trip, as do Monkey and Elephant (for some reason, Giraffe doesn’t take a turn). Tortoise finally gets the job done, walking “carefully and slowly” on the way back and singing a mnemonic ditty (“Bojabi for you. Bojabi for me. What will bring down the fruit of the tree?”). Hofmeyr’s retelling bounds along with lively language and fun characterizations (especially the increasingly annoyed Lion), but it’s Grobler’s manic watercolors that truly provide the book’s energy. The vibrant red and green bojabi tree stands out like a beacon against the dusty African landscape, and his wily animal caricatures brim with personality. Ages 4–7.” (Oct.) ~ Publishers Weekly Reviewed on: 09/02/2013  | Release date: 10/01/2013


Kirkus Review

“In an animated retelling well-suited to reading aloud, this object lesson in the virtues of concentration features starving animals, a tree that must be named to give up its luscious fruit and a particularly bad-tempered lion.

In a time of drought, one tree offers relief. Told by the giant python guarding fruit “smelling of sweetest mangoes, fat as melons, juicy as pomegranates” that the tree must be addressed by name, Zebra, Monkey and Elephant in turn set out to learn it from distant Lion. So self-congratulatory and distractible are all three, though, that by the time they return, they’ve forgotten it. This leaves small Tortoise to crawl slowly, slowly to Lion and then slowly, carefully back, chanting the tree’s name over and over. Readers and listeners are invited to do the same, though considering the tongue-twisting names in other versions of this African tale, “Bojabi” won’t be that much of a challenge. The story’s narrative pattern is humorously highlighted by the increasingly choleric Lion’s ever-louder responses to the animals’ repeat visits. In eye-catching contrast to the wilted-looking sufferers in Grobler’s fine-lined watercolors, both Python and Tortoise sport bright patterns.

A lively alternative to the standard renditions, Celia Barker Lottridge’s The Name of the Tree, illustrated by Ian Wallace (1989), and Joanna Troughton’s Tortoise’s Dream (1980). (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)” ~ Kirkus Review Posted Online:Aug. 28th, 2013 | Kirkus Reviews Issue:Sept. 15th, 2013

Contributor Information
Piet Grobler grew up on a farm in Limpopo, South Africa. After working as a church minister, he made a career in illustration and now lectures at the University of Worcester. He is the recipient of many international illustration awards, including the IBBY Honours List. His books for Frances Lincoln include The Great Tug of War and Aesop’s Fables with Beverley Naidoo, and Fussy Freya with Katharine Quarmby. He lives in Great Malvern.

Dianne Hofmeyr grew up on the tip of Southern Africa. She graduated as an art teacher in Cape Town and has written several teenage novels and picture books. she has won the M-Net Award for fiction and has two IBBY Honour Books.

Contributor Residences
Dianne Hofmeyr lives in London, United Kingdom.
Piet Grobler lives in Malvern, United Kingdom.



Trade Cloth, Picture Book
US $17.99 /  CAN $19.99
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books Fall 2013
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