Playing by the book

Reviews of kids' books and the crazy, fun stuff they inspire us to do

Catching South African fever!

Posted on | June 10, 2010 | 20 Comments

With the Football World Cup kicking off tomorrow in South Africa it seems like a perfect opportunity to find out a little more about children’s picture books from South Africa. Although I’ve done a fair bit of research (more on this below), I have been rather hampered by the fact that our local library has recently closed “for the foreseeable future” because asbestos has been discovered there… I feel bereft!

Anyway, through the online library catalogue and inter-library loan and a bus trip to another library we’ve come up with a book that we’ve really taken to – The Dove by Dianne Stewart, illustrated by Jude Daly.

The Dove, set in the South African province of Natal, tells the story of Lindi and her Grandmother who are tying to make ends meet after a flood destroys crops and sweeps away many animals. They make beaded trinkets to sell in tourist shops in Durban but have little success until they decide instead of their usual keyrings to make a dove, inspired by the first animal on their land after the flood had subsided. Their beaded animals and people are a hit and now Lindi and her Grandmother need not worry about having enough money until the next harvest.

Photo: mickeymox

M loved the story because of the sewing/creating theme, J enjoyed the small details in the illustrations (which actually reminded me a little of Gauguin in their style), and I loved the story for its freshness and believability – it was a great introduction for my girls into (what seems to me) “real” South Africa, rather than a version you might find preserved in an open air museum (although it would be very interesting to hear what any South African readers have to say about the themes in this book). This story set in modern South Africa would be the perfect read before holidaying there – a great way to start thinking about the people behind the trinkets we might bring back from visiting there.

Inspired by this gentle book I ordered a selection of African beads and buttons from The African Fabric Shop – a favourite place of mine if a non-book treat is in order. M used these beads to create two pieces of art – one for her room, and one for J’s room. We used some embroidery hoops we’d picked up in a charity shop, a large needle and some embroidery thread and then M set about designing her African villages and sewing them in place.

These pieces have turned out beautifully, even if I say so myself!






The Dove: ** (2 stars)

Some South African music to dance to!

  • BLK JKS – a rather unusual South African band who are performing in the World Cup Kick-Off Concert
  • The Click Song by Myriam Makeba
  • Mbube by Solomon Linda’s Original Evening Birds and the better known version The Lion Sleeps Tonight by The Tokens
  • Ace Blues by Spokes Mashiyane
  • Dubula Mfanandini by Manhattan Brothers
  • Amezemula by Mahotella Queens
  • Africa Make Some Noise! The Story of Modern African Music – a programme on the BBC’s Radio 1 all about modern African music featuring sounds from across the continent. Only available to listen to again until Monday 14th June (and possibly only in the UK)


  • Some more (South) African crafts and activities we’d like to get up to over the next month:

  • Papier mâché African Masks from the excellent blog Art for Small Hands
  • South African Kids’ songs from Mama Lisa, including several in languages other than English
  • Our own (slightly) quieter version of a vuvuzela – using the hooter part from a party hooter attached to a simple cone made from paper
  • These fun articulated puppets from Se7en, guestposting over at The Crafty Crow

  • Photo: mickeymox

    As to that research I mentioned aboveabout trying to find out more about South African picture books, here are the various websites I used:

  • 100 Representative South African Books for Children and Young People 2007 (mentioned in my post last week)

  • “The Best of South African Picture Books” (mentioned in my post last week)

  • Information about Niki Daly – perhaps South Africa’s best known author and illustrator of children’s books. Niki Daly is the husband of Judly Daly, the illustrator of The Dove

  • Children’s Literature Research Unit at the University of South Africa

  • The Vivian Wilkes Award for children’s book illustrations – this award rewards the illustrator of “an outstanding illustrated South African children’s book”.

  • A list of South African Children’s Book Awards

  • Children’s books from the Africa Book Centre – a UK based bookshop specialising in books and music from and about the continent of Africa. The Africa Book Centre ship worldwide.

  • A selection of book from/about South Africa (and other African countries) from Kids around the world

  • A virtual exhibition, “Books for Africa, Books from Africa”, put together by the International Board on Books for Young Peoply (IBBY) – not limited to book from/about South Africa, but very useful for finding books published (originally) in Africa

  • IBBY South Africa

  • Photo: coda

  • South Africa Childrens Literature Lesson Plans from Shirley’s preschool activities

  • Se7en South African Book Resources for Kids… – including non-fiction, poetry and folktales.

  • A Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast interview with Mina Javaherbin about her debut picture book title, Goal! which tells the story of a group of friends in a poor South African township who revel in a game of football.

  • A list of recommended South African children’s literature from Footprints on our land (South African Homeschool Curriculum)

  • Photo: Mister-E

    Have you got any books from or about South Africa that you and your family love and that we should look out for?

    Once again I’m linking up with stART at A Mommy’s Adventures – I do hope you have the time to head on over there and see what other stories + art families have been up to!

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    Comments

    20 Responses to “Catching South African fever!”

    1. Kristine
      June 10th, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

      The bead work looks lovely. I imagine the beads would have felt good to work with.

    2. Zoe @ Playing by the book
      June 10th, 2010 @ 4:08 pm

      Yes, it’s always lovely to work with beautiful object – a treat instead of using recycled loo rolls and computer paper!

    3. Christianne @ Little Page Turners
      June 10th, 2010 @ 7:12 pm

      You always have the best lists of links. I appreciate the amount of time that must have gone into them. Those bead villages are beautiful! Thanks for the book recommendation – I love books that introduce my children to different cultures.

    4. Wonder Mom
      June 10th, 2010 @ 7:12 pm

      THANK YOU for doing all this research on South Africa for us- I will be headed to my asbestosis-free library to check out some of these gems!

    5. B
      June 10th, 2010 @ 8:45 pm

      Love all the links-your photography is amazing, too!

    6. Natalie
      June 10th, 2010 @ 8:46 pm

      I am amazed with all the resources you provide with your posts. Those African villages look so beautiful – what a great project. I am going to return to this post for recommendations once we are ready to move on to South Africa :)

    7. Janelle
      June 10th, 2010 @ 9:20 pm

      Putumayo has a new South Africa CD that I’ve been meaning to get my hands on. I do love those African beads. They made perfect villages. Will have to see if my daughter can tackle a sewing project this summer.

    8. Almost Unschoolers
      June 10th, 2010 @ 9:22 pm

      What gorgeous beads – and a lovely project!

    9. Tweets that mention Catching South African fever! | Playing by the book -- Topsy.com
      June 11th, 2010 @ 12:35 am

      [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by J.H. Everett, Zoe Toft. Zoe Toft said: Are you ready for the World Cup? What do you know about South African kids' books? Here are some fun resources: http://bit.ly/ai1TRX [...]

    10. Sarah
      June 11th, 2010 @ 1:10 am

      Great post! They came out beautifully!

    11. vanessa@silly eagle books
      June 11th, 2010 @ 2:08 am

      I love the craft project! It turned out so beautifully!

    12. JDaniel's Mom
      June 11th, 2010 @ 2:45 am

      This is such a wonderful idea! The book look really nice too.

    13. Kelly
      June 11th, 2010 @ 3:02 am

      What a wonderful post. The bead work project turned out so lovely.

    14. Zoe
      June 11th, 2010 @ 5:45 am

      Hello everyone! Wow – I didn’t get online for most of yesterday and I turn on the computer this morning to such a lovely flurry of comments!

      Vanessa – I had to smile when I saw your recent Kenyan crafts – I thought they would pair up nicely with this!

      Janelle – Thanks for the tip. I’m not surprised Putumayo have an SA CD out, and I suspect it will be pretty good.

      Wonder-Mom – I envy your asbestos free library!

    15. Jenny
      June 11th, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

      That is so cool! I love the idea of using embroidery hoops like that. Thank you for such a great post; I’ve saved it in my favorites for when we start our world/multi-cultural studies.

    16. Ticia
      June 11th, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

      love the idea of sewing on buttons for this. I should try my kids at sewing on buttons. They’d probably love it.

    17. Charlene@Adventures-In-Mommy-Land
      June 11th, 2010 @ 10:58 pm

      Great bead work, those came out really pretty!

      Stopping by from stART!

    18. Marjorie (PaperTigers)
      June 16th, 2010 @ 11:23 pm

      What a fabulous post! I love Jude Daly’s illustrations but hadn’t come across The Dove – thank you for pointing it out – and wonderful beadwork. I’ll have to investigate the African Fabric Shop further… Could be dangerous! :-)

    19. Zoe
      June 17th, 2010 @ 7:20 am

      Hi Marjorie, Oh the African Fabric Shop IS dangerous ;-) Fortunately it’s not cheap so that keep my worst excesses under control. For wax prints I find the rag market in the centre of our city a good place to go, but for something a bit special, or for the beads and buttons the African Fabric Shop is wonderful.

    20. Zoe Toft’s blog Playing by the Book and her review of The Dove
      June 21st, 2010 @ 10:20 am

      [...] to share her photos and her review of the book here but I encourage you to visit her blog to read the entire post as she has also compiled an excellent list of resources for South African children’s [...]

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