I Could Be Anywhere
Illustrated by Groenewald. Cape Town, South Africa: Centre for the Book / Sappi Limited, 2004. No pag. ISBN 1-7961-0017-9.
Languages: English, Afrikaans, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, SeSotho, SeTswana, SePedi
Publisher: Centre for the Book
The central character is the girl Thandi who lives, if we look at the background, in a tin shack where her Gogo (Grandmother) has a vegetable garden. Although she lives in an “underprivileged” situation, Thandi transforms each daily ritual with her imagination – seeing herself as a princess, a dancer, with a feast of food – and even playing in the river as Gogo did when she was a girl. Her companion and confidant is a cockerel, Pepi, who is represented on the pages by shining feather collage. After happy, chirpy imaginings, Thandi is still sure that she is happiest being on her Gogo’s lap with a blanket wrapped around them.
This is a large-format, beautifully produced picture book with gorgeous colour and spot lamination. The illustrations are a mixture of collage, paint, and line drawings. The book could be accused of romanticising poverty, but why cannot poor children have rich imaginations? What the book does accomplish is to show how glamorous and evocative a simple picture book can be – and how modern printing techniques can be used to enhance a story.