A quiet but winsome African tale, in which ordinary landscapes and animals become extraordinary.

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Under the African Sky

In this debut middle-grade novella, a young New Yorker’s trip to South Africa takes a rousing turn once he accepts an elephant’s invitation to a wondrous pond.

Nine-year-old Krishna and his parents arrive in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Their journey from New York encompassed nearly a full day, not to mention four hours driving from the airport to the park, all for a three-day stay. But Krishna’s looking forward to seeing all the wild animals on the forthcoming safari. He’s even excited to try an outdoor shower and is shocked when an elephant steals some of his water—a talking elephant. Broken Tusk introduces himself and offers to take Krishna on a ride into the forest to visit an enchanted pond. They agree to a midnight rendezvous, but after a day of spotting zebras and giraffes and enjoying a hearty meal, a weary Krishna sleeps past the departure time for his adventure with Broken Tusk. The next day, after a morning safari, Krishna spies animals at a watering hole, including his new friend, who suggests naming some of the other animals. Once Krishna does, he’s able to hear conversations between warthogs and buffaloes. He makes sure to set his alarm that evening and, atop Broken Tusk, goes to see the pond that’s magical only at night. While Sehgal’s story hints at magic, Africa itself remains the true wonderment. Krishna, for example, despite hoping he’ll be back from the safari in time to meet Broken Tusk, is in awe while traveling alongside the country’s four-legged inhabitants. The author touches on a few serious issues: animals will feed on another one who’s died, contrasted with wasteful humans. But she reserves the bulk of her narrative to celebrate Africa, and young readers will learn about its wildlife and vegetation (for example, the centuries-old baobab tree), as well as a greeting in the Tsonga language: “Hoy hoy.” Krishna eventually reaches the mystical pond, a place of beauty and harmony—and with enough ambiguity to leave readers guessing whether what Krishna witnessed is real. The accompanying uncredited illustrations are snapshots of the best moments, like Broken Tusk’s trunk sneaking into Krishna’s shower.

A quiet but winsome African tale, in which ordinary landscapes and animals become extraordinary.

Pub Date: July 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5246-0910-8

Page Count: 78

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2016

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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ON THE NIGHT YOU WERE BORN

A beautiful tribute to the uniqueness of every child: “On the night you were born, the moon smiled with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, ‘Life will never be the same.’ ” The wind and the rain whispered the new babe’s name, causing animals all over the world to rejoice. And if ever that child thinks that he is unloved, all he need do is listen to the wind and look around at nature—they will remind him of just how special and loved he is. New parents and grandparents will get teary as they celebrate with the author the wonder and marvel that is their newborn baby, while young listeners will be thrilled at being the center of creation’s attention. Neither group will notice the uneven rhyme scheme employed in the text or the failure of the author to carry through in encouraging parent and child to interact. The focus will be on the paint-and-collage illustrations, rich in color and incorporating words from the text. Perfect for lap sharing with a beloved little one. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-9765761-0-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Darling Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2005

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