Thursday, April 28, 2016

Review: Dear Baobab - Written by Cheryl Foggo & Illustrated by Qin Leng

Dear Baobab - Written by Cheryl Foggo, Illustrated by Qin Leng

Maiko has left his village in Tanzania far behind, moving to Canada with his aunt and uncle. When he thinks of home, he thinks of the beautiful big baobab tree at the center of the village. In his new home, Maiko feels a connection to the small spruce tree in the front yard--it's seven years old, the same age as he is. The tree sings to him and shares his secrets. When he learns that the roots of the tree are growing too close to the house, putting the little spruce in danger of being cut down, Maiko tries to save it. He knows all too well what it's like to be small and planted in the wrong place.

Rating: 5 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Dear Baobab was a sad story. It was a good story, make no mistake, but there was a lot of sadness in Maiko's story.

This book seems to be especially needed these days, with more refugee crises happening every day. Maiko has to find his way in this new place and comes up against adversity. There's the class "bully" who teases him about his big ears, there's the little spruce tree which he becomes attached to and which is threatened with being cut down simply because of where it grew.

Maiko doesn't actually do a lot in this book, if by not a lot you understand that it means no quests other than the one that is growing up. It's a difficult time and being in a new place and learning new things doesn't make things easier. By the end of the story, when Maiko turns 8, I think he's finally learning how to settle in with his new friend and the fate of his little spruce tree solidified.

This work was beautifully written. The language wasn't overly simplistic nor was it overly fancy. It found that middle balance where the words seem to engulf you in the story. Nothing magical or fantastical is happening, but you find yourself sinking into the story and feeling for the characters.

The artwork was, too, very good. It was easy to picture these pictures leaping off the page and surrounding the reader as they go through Maiko's story, like something right out of Reading Rainbow.

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