Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Sleeping Baobab Tree by Paula Leyden

17832551
In a side pocket of my rucksack I have a small red notebook. It's where we (i.e. Madillo my twin sister, Fred our neighbour and me, of course) note down what happens at school. Or more specifically what happens in Sister Leonisa's class. She's our religion teacher. There are three columns on each page: GOD, STORY, WORK. It's different from my small black notebook, where I write down the things that I think about. That belongs to just me.
Published by Walker Books in July 2013
Pages - 240
Goodreads Summary
In a side pocket of my rucksack I have a small red notebook. It's where we (i.e. Madillo my twin sister, Fred our neighbour and me, of course) note down what happens at school. Or more specifically what happens in Sister Leonisa's class. She's our religion teacher. There are three columns on each page: GOD, STORY, WORK. It's different from my small black notebook, where I write down the things that I think about. That belongs to just me.
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Review by children’s author Liss Norton
This book is thoroughly readable, funny at times, scary at others and with brilliant, believable characters. It's told in short chapters, which makes it perfect for bedtime reading, mostly from the points of view of Bul-Boo and Fred. This actually seemed slightly odd as Madillo (Bul-Boo's twin), who is an important character, only had one chapter of her own, but her slightly dizzy character shines through in spite of this. 
The story's set in Zambia and I was expecting an African flavour from the start. In fact, I felt that the first three-quarters of the book could have been set anywhere but once the children reached Ng'ombe Ilede all that changed. Here was the blending of African landscape, culture and superstition that I'd been anticipating – and it was well worth waiting for! Until that point there had been conflict between Bul-boo's total belief in science and her rejection of the idea of magic, while Fred and Madillo were convinced that magic existed. At Ng'ombe Ilede magic took over, placing the children in danger before leading to an exciting and very satisfying conclusion. 
All in all the book is most memorable for its characters, rather than its plot: scientific Bul-Boo, dizzy Madillo, anxious Fred who exaggerates everything, and, most memorable of all, wildly eccentric Nokokulu and Sister Leonisa. A great read for children of nine and over!

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