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*Sikulu and Harambe by the Zambezi River: An African Version of the Good Samaritan Story* by Kunle Oguneye
Sikulu and Harambe by the Zambezi River: An African Version of the Good Samaritan Story
by Kunle Oguneye
Ages 4-8 32 pages Blue Brush Media July 2008 Hardcover    

Sikulu the spider and Harambe the hippo are playing by the river when they see an old woman lose her footing and drop her laundry in the water. The woman is too old to swim in and rescue her clothes by herself.

The woman asks Ludinba the river fish for help, but he refuses to help her because he is busy swimming upstream, while her clothes are floating downstream. The woman approaches Imasiku the stork next, only to be told that Imasiku is too busy looking for lunch to help her. When the woman asks Mundia the elephant for help, she learns that it is not Mundiaís bath day and he does not wish to get wet.

Harambe and Sikulu, who have witnessed these events, decide to wade in (with Sikulu the spider, who is scared of water, clinging tightly to Harambe the hippo) and retrieve the womanís basket of clothes. It proves to be a struggle to swim against the riverís strong currents, but eventually the friends return the womanís clothes to her. As a reward for helping her when she was in need, the woman gives them valuable gifts - glistening emerald and gold bracelets for Sikulu, and a beautiful chitenge cloth fit for kings for Harambe.

Author Kunle Oguneye brings this traditional Good Samaritan tale from his native Africa (Zambia, in the instance of this story) to American audiences. He envisions a series of adventures featuring Sikulu and Harambe traveling through various African countries.

This book makes for a solid and pleasant introduction to African folk tales. The pronunciation guides and the index at the end of the story are excellent sources of information for further study. The artwork by Bruce McCorkindale is vibrant and striking; you will either love it or hate it. I felt the illustrations distracted from the text, rather than enhancing it.
 


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