"Today the greatest challenge in publishing is distribution and discoverability. As a result, sites like [PictureBooksReview] are more important than ever to discerning readers, new authors and independent publishers."
-Steve Floyd, chief executive officer of August House books

"The interview is so amazing! I appreciate you picking up on all these aspects of what I've been doing. It's always great to talk with someone who understands what goes into these things."

- Jose Lucio, self-published author of Heave Ho!
Showing posts with label Matador. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Matador. Show all posts


The Adventures of Nzumah: The First Volcano (2013)

Written and Illustrated by Naa Korkoi Abotchi


Hey, this one was pretty good. This is the third volume of The Adventures of Nzumah, all written by Naa Korkoi Abotchi, and published by Matador - who were good enough to send me these complimentary copies.

I couldn't find much information on Abotchi, other than that she was born in Ghana and now lives in Harrow. "[My] series has been inspired by conversations with her grandmother," she writes in her author bio, "whose story telling was legendary and who has been a very important part of [my] life. She is still very much alive when I remember the stories every day."

This would have been a great story to have been told as an impressionable child, and it was not a story I had heard before. Though now that I have, it makes perfect sense. Volcanoes are the result of a giant dragon who was long ago trapped underground by some crafty villagers, and who now wanders underground still, spewing out in anger.

At first, two brave, strong men attempt to take on the dragon single-handedly, and fail. It is the third man, Yinka, who has the idea to seek help from the entire village. By working together, he decides, the dragon can be defeated.

There were some nice, gruesome images of the dragon chowing down on some livestock, and the festive scenes of the villagers celebrating had a lot of really wonderful details, dancing and musical intruments. I believe I could really see Abotchi growing as a writer and an illustrator in just these three titles, and I hope she continues!


The Adventures of Nzumah: The Proud Peacock (2013)

Written and Illustrated by Naa Korkoi Abotchi


Nzumah is back in another story-within-a-story. This book follows from The Ugly Chick. I liked that in this one, we are given some more details about the world the story takes place in. Before, all we knew was that Nzumah was the son of a king. As this story opens, the kingdom is given a name, the Bantu kingdom, and we are told that it is, "surrounded by hills in a secluded valley... hidden from the world."

I actually prefer the framing device of these stories to the actual stories. I looked up 'Bantu kingdom,' assuming it to be fictional, I found this description of it on althistorywikia.com:

"The Bantu were a tribe originating in central Africa but predominantly in Nigeria. After the conquest of Nigeria by the Roman Empire many tribes escaped into southern Africa. One of these were the Bantu. The Bantu at first settled on the border of the Satavahana so that they could benefit from their trade. But soon the Satavahana began attacking the Bantu for invading their lands. The bantu fought back and the Satavahana believed that they were an uncivilized people, but they had weapons on par with the Satavahana. By 1075 (322 AD) the Bantu almost all were settled on the border north of the Satavahana. A large war ensued in which the bantu attempted to take most of the mainland parts of the Satavahana Kingdom. they were defeated but the Satavahana had a Pyrrhic Victory and settled for allowing the Bantu to create a state on their border. The general of the Bantu became the first King, Namula, and he ruled with a strong and dignified ability and asserted his control over the body of water named Lake Bantu (Lake Tanganyika) and the northern shores of Lake Malawi."

Althistorywikia.com is the wiki page for fictional places and histories, so I'm not really sure what's going on here, or why it's significant.

What I am sure about is the fact that in this story, Nzumah struts around his village, going from the market to the story hut, dressed in a new outfit that the youngest of his father's wives had given to him. But... how can he play when he's wearing nice, new clothes???!!!

Fortunately, the tale of the Proud Peacock is told to him, and the day is saved. Phew!


The Adventures of Nzumah: The Ugly Chick (2013)

Written and Illustrated by Naa Korkoi Abotchi


Funny to think the last time I reviewed this basic story, it was for the Maynard Moose tale, The Uglified Ducky. Now here it is again, but told with complete earnestness. It's not a moose being raised by ducks, but an eagle being raised by a hen, at the foot of Mount Killimanjaro, which is a good place for a story to take place.

This is the first book in a trilogy of books about a young boy named Nazumah, the son of a King, to whom the great lessons of life are imparted via storytelling.

This was a strange book for me to read, and I'm having a lot of trouble saying anything about it, I'm afraid. I'm so used to reading children's books which somehow subvert the presumed expectations of the readers, or find some ironic twist... but this is pretty much a straight-up ugly duckling story. Hen raises the ugly chick, turns out its an eagle, and Nazumah realizes, "We are all special in different ways and should learn to respect each other."
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...