A brother and sister travel to a special gathering under a gigantic baobab tree in this quiet, beautifully illustrated story set in a rural area of an unnamed African country.
The siblings walk together down a dusty road on their way to a nearby village, where the large baobab tree is located. The story relates different events that happen under the tree: a visit from the market wagon, elders meeting to discuss village business, a storyteller recounting tales of heroes. A repeated refrain builds anticipation: “But who will gather today under the baobab tree?” During their journey, the children spot some intriguing sights such as gazelle around a watering hole and a termite mound. When they reach the baobab tree at last, they join other people waiting under the tree, and it gradually becomes apparent that this is an outdoor church service with just the basic elements: “a cross and a Bible, a pastor and songs, voices and prayers.” Evocative watercolor illustrations make effective use of sunlight and shadows to create a warm, realistic world that shimmers in the African heat.
A subtle, captivating glimpse of another way of life, with a regrettably generalized author’s note about the significance of the baobab tree in African culture. (Picture book/religion. 4-8)