Eleven relatives from two countries gather under one sun for a wild (literally) birthday bash.
Robinson, author of many acclaimed books about her famous father, Jackie Robinson, writes in this true story about her mother, Rachel (known as Bibi to the grandchildren). Here, she celebrates her 85th birthday on safari in Tanzania with her son and daughter-in-law and their seven children. Though David Robinson (the author’s brother) grew up in Connecticut, he has made his home in Tanzania since 1984, making this celebration a rare opportunity for family togetherness. Over its course, readers will absorb a few words of Swahili, the mother tongue of the grandchildren, and also learn about slavery in Tanzania’s history. The gazelles, lions, giraffes and elephants the family sees on safari, though, will likely upstage the book’s history lessons. Given the number of children and the unfamiliar names of several of them (Nubia, Busaro, Saburi), readers would do well to study the photographs that appear in the backmatter prior to reading the story. In fact, the photographs of the family’s shopping for and cooking a Tanzanian meal may appeal to some readers more than Ford’s acrylic-and-oil illustrations since they vividly represent the beauty of the country and feature mounds of freshly cut pineapples and heaps of interesting market-fresh fare.
A worthwhile snapshot of a family that delights in its international and cross-cultural ties. (Picture book. 4-8)