Picture Books

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Machume, Johansen N.

Wimbo wa Usiku

Night Song


Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: NPC-KIUTA, 2004. 22 p. ISBN 9987-662-14-5. Ages 3-8.


Language: Kiswahili


Publisher: National Printing Company Ltd. (NPC-KIUTA)


Summary
Ana and Loisi are young girls who fall under the spell of two villainous anopheles mosquitoes, Big and Small. The insects befriend the curious girls and tell them all about their lives and the different types of mosquitoes. Soon the mosquitoes begin to hum a mesmerizing song. As Ana and Loisi listen to it, they forget to put up their mosquito nets and fall asleep unprotected. The song of the villains goes like this:

Sleep good children sleep,
It is now time to eat,
Your skin is lovely and waiting,
Your blood is delicious,
Sleep good children sleep. (1)


Big and Small attack their unsuspecting prey and feed on the blood of the sleeping girls. After ten days, Ana falls sick with malaria and needs treatment. The girls and their family learn a lesson from the difficulties that ensue. They join their neighbors in actively preventing malaria by treating stagnant water, creating a drainage system, and using medicated mosquito nets. Big and Small are in for a big surprise on their next visit!

Commentary
Children will easily relate to Ana and Loisi’s experiences as they learn how to be responsible for their own health. The entertaining tone and simple and easy-to-understand language provide an accessible approach to teaching children about mosquitoes, taking precautions, and the management of malaria in their homes and communities. In addition, incorporating song into the text, in the style of traditional African storytelling, makes this an especially good read-aloud story. The simple illustrations are evocative of local Tanzanian life. The use of white space and a large font makes these books particularly suited for the intermediate independent reader, with some adult assistance.

 

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