Mollel, Tololwa M. ;
E.B. Lewis (illus.)
New York: Houghton Mifflin/Clarion, 1995. $14.95,
ISBN 0 395 67403 4.
Note: Little Oli wants to be big enough to go bird hunting with his older brother but has to take a nap instead. Through the assistance of the magical Tunukia-zawadi bird, he becomes very big indeed.(CABA Honor)
Tolowa Mollel belongs to one of Tanzania's minorities, the Maasai. Although he now lives in Canada, he has written several children's picture books about folktales that he heard in his youth. These include "The Orphan Boy," Rhinos for Lunch and Elephants for Supper!" "The King and the Tortoise," and "The Flying Tortoise." This story is a common tale describing the results of a wish that becomes out of control. "Big Boy" illustrates the struggles with which younger siblings have to contend. In this story Oli wants to go bird hunting with his older brother instead of having to take a nap. Through the assistance of the Tunukia-zawadi bird, he becomes very big indeed. The outcome of Oli's wish to be bigger rather than older, subjects him to difficult situations. He learns a lesson concerning making unrealistic wishes. As a good storyteller, Mollel incorporates several important literary devices. First, he includes a supernatural animal --the Tunukia-zawadi bird -- that makes Oli's transformation possible. Second, Mollel uses the sound of a drum to punctuate Oli's adventures. In addition, Mollel introduces young readers to Swahili through some common vocabulary. After all, Swahili is the official and national language of Tanzania. For teachers of Swahili, this book can be incorporated into a lesson on the family, folktales, or community. In the future, Mollol might consider a bi-lingual text English - Swahili. The watercolor illustrations of E.B. Lewis are realistic. He captures the feel and details of rural Tanzanian communities. The illustrations complement the text. Highly Recommended.
Copyright © 1995 by Africa Access, all rights reserved. Africa Access permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and Africa Access Review. For any other proposed use, contact AfricaAccess@aol.com
Reviewed by: Patricia S. Kuntz, Madison, Wisconsin
Subject: Tanzania / Fiction / CABA Honor / Black author