Picture Books

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Coombe, Barbara, and Maggie Slingsby

I Can’t Find It

Illustrated by Heather Moore. Potyi Reading Series. Muizenberg, Western Cape, South Africa: Baardskeerder / Potyi Books, 2001. No pag. ISBN 1-919900-33-0. Ages 6-8.

Languages: English, Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Portuguese, SeSotho, Sesotho na Leboa, SeTswana, SiSwati, TshiVenda, XiTsonga

Publisher: Baardskeerder

This book is representative of the eighteen that make up this excellent set of simple, urban African stories. Although carefully planned with a progressive use of vocabulary, each book is independent and enjoyable on its own. I Can’t Find It (from the second set of six books) follows a boy preparing for school, changing from pyjamas into shirt and shorts, but he is increasingly worried that he cannot find his puppy. However, the reader has been able to see two eyes peering out of the school satchel all through the book.  

Envisioned by two highly experienced primary teachers who know the specific needs of second (and third) language learners, the Potyi Books are splendid examples of books created for a specific local need. The colour artwork is delightful, sparkling with life and humour. It adds to the text and amplifies the word concepts with more details to discover. The urban African setting is realistic but never condescending. The books have been workshopped in local schools and have proved highly successful with both teachers and pupils. The series starts with wordless books in which the story is “read” from the pictures, and progresses to stories with speech-bubble dialogue and accompanying narrative text. This series of eighteen books was published by the small independent company Baardskeerder, under the Potyi Books imprint, in a joint project with the Scientific and Industrial Leadership Initiative (SAILI). Maskew Miller Longman has translated these books into Afrikaans and the other nine African languages through their Kagiso imprint. Barbara Coombe was responsible for the isiXhosa and isiZulu translations.


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