Teaote and the Wall by Marita Davies, illustrated by Stacey Bennett

a nutshell: set in Kiribati, this beautiful children’s book follows a young girl’s resilient attempts to protect her home from the rising sea

a line: “Kairo, if you help me build my wall, I can help you build your wall”

an image: I particularly loved the page (below) where Teaote happily dreams of rippling rainbow fish, coconut trees stretching up to the clouds, and the mango-coloured sun

a thought: to me this was a moving insight into what it’s like for children on the frontlines of the climate crisis, all the more so given that the book is based on the true story of Marita’s mother Teaote

a fact: Davies closes the book with a note about Kiribati – home to 100,000 indigenous i-Kiribati people and sitting halfway between Australia & Hawaii, this small Pacific nation is predicted to disappear underwater in 50 years

want to read Teaote and the Wall? visit here

Des Contes pour la Lune by Edna Merey-Apinda

N.B. I read this book in its original French language, but I would LOVE to discover that an English-language translation of these beautiful & heart-warming short stories from Gabon might someday become available!

a nutshell: an owl plays the role of storyteller for his friend, the moon, to help her shine brightly – fantastic stories of Lulu the dragonfly’s woes at the Ball of the Fireflies, Cali the chief monkey’s nightmarish choice for successor, Sieur the raven’s tendency to see la vie en noir, and the songs & strife of Beauty the turtledove

a line: “Luna was his only daughter, the pupil of his eyes, his sun, the sugar in his banana” (I will always love that very last phrase)

an image: there were many magical images, but to pick just one – ahead of the Ball of the Fireflies, we hear of the stars’ plans to wear their most sparkling jewelry to ensure the party is dazzling

a thought: I was interested in how, more than once, the wind was the cause of angst among these wonderful animals’ comings and goings – the natural elements were also  anthropomorphised, and the wind very much held the position of mischief-maker

a fact: having grown up in Gabon’s second-largest city and leading seaport, Port-Gentil, Merey-Apinda writes in her blurb that it was from meetings across her birthplace’s borders that she came to want to share her love for words

want to read Des Contes pour la Lune? visit here

Kaluti by Shazia Usman

kaluti book and plant

a nutshell: this empowering book for children tells the story of a 10-year-old girl, Zia, who is forced to confront colourism when her aunt refers to her as ‘kaluti’ – a derogatory term used by Fijian-Indian people to describe those who have dark skin

a line: “Maybe I am not important to anyone because I am dark”

an image: after hearing herself dubbed ‘kaluti’ for the first time, Zia borrows her father’s phone to look up the word and her response is heart-breaking

a thought: the book also subtly raises the notion of traditional gender norms in childhood – whereas Zia’s aunt forbids her daughter to be in the sun, fearing the idea of darkening skin, she allows her son to do as he wishes

a fact: I was lucky enough to interview Shazia for International Day of the Girl, and learned that her inspiration for the book came from seeing girls go through what she had when she was their age; she describes the book as a love letter to her younger self and other brown girls out there


want to read Kaluti? visit here