Mama Jumbo is a pachyderm inhabitant of Zanzibar Road, in an imaginary country that may or may not be South Africa.
Wearing her “Flippy-floppy, flappy-slippy, this-way-that-way pompom” hat, she leaves Little Chico (her chicken child) at home with bow-tie–wearing lion Bro Vusi and goes to market in a brightly painted taxi van. She sees all her animal friends selling and buying produce, beads, mirrors, sunglasses, clothing, pottery and crafts, a mixture of traditional southern African and modern Western goods. Mama Jumbo trades for some fruit-printed cloth and a mirror so that she can place her hat just so. When the taxi’s tire blows out, she fixes it with bubble gum and pumps it up with her trunk. At home, she makes a “tutti-frutti” shirt for Little Chico. The five short chapters bring back the characters from Welcome to Zanzibar Road (2006), and while there are no really dramatic moments, the very human animals are unfailingly polite, gently humorous and generous. The fun here is in the language and the details in the watercolor, pen and digital media illustrations, such as the expressive faces, the dog riding on a bicycle piled high with television sets and the mbiras (gourd thumb pianos) in the musical instruments stall.
Comfortingly familiar and intriguingly different at the same time, this trip to the market and back again will carry readers to a place filled with joie de vivre. (Picture book. 4-7)