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LALA SALAMA by Patricia MacLachlan


A Tanzanian Lullaby

by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

Age Range: 3 - 5

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4747-6
Publisher: Candlewick

Newbery Medal–winner MacLachlan (Sarah, Plain and Tall, 1985) sets her gentle picture book–cum-lullaby near Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania.

Her recent Your Moon, My Moon: A Grandmother's Words to a Faraway Child, illustrated by Bryan Collier (2011), travels similar territory—sharing comforting words to a beloved young one. “Lala salama” means “sleep peacefully” in Swahili and serves as a soothing refrain in the rhythmic narrative from mother to baby as the day unfolds. Zunon’s lush, softly textured oil paintings on watercolor paper reflect the warmth of the African setting and emotion-imbued prose. Saturated warm hues dominate in clearly depicting the unfamiliar, whether it be a kanga, a brightly colored cotton cloth often used as a baby sling, or “the bee-eaters” that “twitter their last songs of the day…” Baba (father) plays an active role, laughing with his baby or preparing his wooden boat to join “other boats, / their flour-sack sails / fat with wind.” But then night comes, and the palette deepens into rich blues and inky purples: “Close your eyes, / my / dear / child. / Lala salama.

Share this with preschoolers who may enjoy a peek into another culture’s family life or keep at hand for the tired child, who will most appreciate this quietly sentimental offering. (Picture book. 3-5)