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  • Postcards
  • Lilian Vikiru, Christina Christodoulou, Rose Blankson Austin, Nahdjla Carasco Bailey, Karyn Huennemann, and Sylvia Vardell

Dogodogo is a collection of personal stories told by Isaac, Moses, Edward, Amos, Aloys, Rajabu, Dickson, and Emmanuel. What began as a strategy to practice the past tense in the first person by telling stories led to the production of this emotional collection: the individual and collective experiences of street children in Tanzania. Although the stories are different, they share common themes of pain, loss, and rejection. The book is written by Kasia Parham, a volunteer teacher of English at the Dogodogo center, compiled from the children’s oral accounts. Dogodogo means “little” and is a common Kiswahili term used in Tanzania to refer to a child. Parham allows the children to tell their own stories of how they endured poverty, hunger, domestic violence, child labor, and deprivation of basic necessities. The children recount how they ran away to Dar es Salaam to escape their harsh lives, but when they got to the city, realized that, to most of the adults, they were invisible. Although the children tell their heart-rending stories of hardship, they also exhibit a resolve and determination to find a better future: as they put it: “[w]e survived the streets, we can survive, we can manage”. The children have not only told the stories, but also illustrated parts of the book, showcasing some of the talents that have been harnessed by the Dogodogo center.

Lilian Vikiru

Kasia Parham
Dogodogo: Tanzanian Street Children Tell Their Stories
Dar es Salaam: Macmillan
Aidan, 2009
49pp. ISBN 978-0-230-72212-5
(non-fiction, 12+) [End Page 9]

The title of this picturebook by the Cypriot author Marina Michaelidou-Kadi and the award-winning German illustrator Constanze von Kitzing is as enigmatic as the smile of the little girl on the front cover. What is it that makes Semeli smile? Semeli seeks the source of genuine happiness by asking her mother and friends, searching in books, and questioning her grandfather. What makes people smile? He wisely does not give her a clear answer trusting her critical abilities, he simply tells her that “Something different makes each person smile,” leaving her space and time to rethink and investigate. A conflict over a coveted red bicycle and a wounded puppy helps her decide. In this high-quality edition, published by the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation, the reader is taken on a journey through a young girl’s changing understanding of the world. The book’s colorful illustrations initiate a symbolic play with hidden red hearts, keeping the reader searching for them throughout the book, and implying an answer to Semeli’s question. Semeli’s Smile is a story about valuing love and affection over the superficial pleasures of materialism. In our consumer–driven societies, it gently reminds the child reader that true happiness cannot be bought, and instead can be found by caring for others.

Christina Christodoulou

Marina Michaelidou–Kadi
To chamogelo tis Semelis
[Semeli’s Smile]
Illustrator: Constanze von Kitzing
Cyprus: Bank of Cyprus Cultural
Foundation, 2011
40 pp, ISBN: 9789963429196
(picturebook, 5+) [End Page 19]

Did the earth really move? J.O de Graft Hanson introduces the reader to two curious siblings, Kofi Taatna and Esi Nworaba, and their cousin Ebow Kobena. Through these brave young children the writer throws light on the legends of Ghana, the beliefs of the people of Moree in particular and Ghanaians in general in the ancestors’ and the peoples’ reverence for the gods and the elders. The People from the Sea is a novel for 9–12 year olds that combines a fictional narrative with legendary stories of how the people of Asebu, a village near Cape Coast in the Central Region of Ghana, and Akatakyiwa, a village also in the central Region, came into being. Originally published in 1988, it has recently been re-released for a modern child readership. J.O de Graft Hanson fuses his narrative with traditional stories and myths as well as legendary songs to paint a vivid picture of Ghanaian belief systems centering on some of the historic events of the Central Region. The novel ends with the earthquake that...


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