SONG OF THE GIRAFFE by Shannon K. Jacobs


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When the Bokuru tribe, their water supply exhausted, plans a feast for their ancestors in the hope of finding a spring celebrated in their oral history, Kisana (10) has a series of dreams in which a giraffe gives her clues to the spring's location. Following the giraffe's directions, she goes in search of an ancient baobob tree; along the way, she meets a Naba boy, Xu, whose voice reminds her of the giraffe's. Xu takes Kisana to his grandmother, who tells her that the tree is dead; Kisana then sings a song about the giraffe that is so sweet that the old woman presents her with the baobob's last pod--but when she returns to her village, her enemy Lavo crushes the pod. With no other gift for the ancestors, Kisana again sings the song of the giraffe, which sends the village leader into a trance that enables him to find the spring after all. Told in a simple, folkloric style, this lovely story brings tribal Africa and its plains vividly to life while incorporating a couple of contemporary concerns: with her light skin and small stature, Kisana differs from her tribe; she also, like the peaceful Naba, believes that hunters should take no more than they need. More serious than most chapter books at this level, but still lively enough to entertain. Johnson's soft, realistic b&w drawings are just reminiscent enough of African tribal art to add a pleasantly exotic flavor.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1991
Page count: 54pp
Publisher: "Little, Brown"