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KABUNGO by Rolli Kirkus Star


by Rolli ; illustrated by Milan Pavlović

Pub Date: April 1st, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-55498-804-4
Publisher: Groundwood

"The unexpected is what happens three times a day at least" when your best friend is a cave girl.

Beverly’s best friend is 10-year-old Kabungo, who lives in a cave on Main Street, right next to the post office. She calls her uncivilized friend “K,” and K calls her “Belly.” In a quirky, gently humorous, and slightly mysterious first-person account, organized into episodic chapters titled with K’s distinctive mispronunciations, Belly describes some of their unusual adventures. There’s the day she follows K into the woods and finds her visiting a Dutch-speaking man she calls Grandpa; a climb up K’s “family tree”; and a treasure hunt leading to a birthday surprise at the town dump. Belly struggles to teach K the alphabet and finds her a kitten K names Bun. Together they go to a Halloween party at the home of Miss VeDore, the 90-year-old pumpkin woman. The narrator’s voice is distinctive, and her account is peppered with her observations and opinions. Though she’s describing her friend, she reveals a lot about herself. Kabungo has few English words, but she regularly demonstrates her love for Beverly with Grateful Cavegirl Squeezes. Occasional grayscale illustrations by comic artist Pavlovic make this surreal tale seem almost real. Both girls are white, but Beverly is neatly groomed while Kabungo sports a fur tunic and uncombed hair. (Final art not seen.)

Fresh and original, this appealing account of friendship celebrates differences and community.

(Fiction. 7-10)