Children's Fiction

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Mpesha, Nyambura

Kuku Na Mwewe

The Hen and the Hawk

Illustrated by Oscar Esikhaty and Oliver Karenga. Nairobi, Kenya: Phoenix Publishers, 2001. 30 p. ISBN 9966-47-210-X.
Ages 10-12.

Language: Kiswahili

Publisher: Phoenix Publishers Ltd.

In ancient times, Hawk and Hen lived in the same village as intimate friends. They assisted each other with cooking during celebrations, borrowed crockery, and shared meals. Similarly, their children were also friends and played together. While Hawk’s children were champions at jumping, Hen’s children were good at running and scratching in the dust. However, the male Hawk and Cock were not familiar with each other because they spent most of their time looking for food for their children.

One day, Hen went to borrow Hawk’s razor blade to shave her children. Hawk loaned her the razor blade, but warned Hen to use it carefully and to return it quickly because she also planned to shave her children. No sooner had Hen finished shaving the first child than the children started crying for food. As she was preparing their meal, the children started shaving each other and eventually they lost the razor blade. Hen was worried because she could not find it. Hawk was surprised that Hen, who promptly returned borrowed items, had taken so long to return the razor blade. When she went to see Hen about it, she was surprised to find that all the children were not shaved and that her razor blade had got lost. In fury, Hawk vowed that until her property was returned she would kill and eat Hen’s chicks whenever they were found in the open. When Cock’s efforts at reconciliation were unsuccessful, they decided to immigrate to the city in order to escape from Hawk. Meanwhile, they continued searching for the lost razor blade. To their great surprise, they discovered that life in the city was even more dangerous. They quickly returned to the village, where Hawk continued to hunt and feed on Hen’s children as they went on looking for the invisible razor blade. The razor blade has not been found as yet.

This book has been approved by the Kenya Institute of Education for readers over ten years with a good reading level. The story shows the danger of building friendships on a weak foundation. A friend who cannot forgive a mistake but seeks revenge is not a true friend. The story further teaches that a sincere friend should be trusting, understanding, and forgiving.


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