The Tortoise's Gift: A Tale from Zambia; Lari Don, illustrated by Melanie Williamson
I love stories from around the world, they broaden children’s understanding and allow them to understand and appreciate a life and culture that is different to their own. The Tortoise’s Gift takes readers to the plains of Zambia where a drought is threatening the livelihood of a community of animals.
When the rain stops falling in Zambia, all the animals quickly became very hungry and thirsty. Old Rabbit has heard stories about the most incredible tree that can grow every type of fruit even when the rains stops. The tree could solve everything but no one can remember the name of it. Having agreed that the tree is really old the animals decide to ask the oldest thing they can think of…the mountain. One by one the animals take it in turns to visit the mountain to request the name of the tree but no one successfully remembers the answer when they get back. When all seems lost, little tortoise steps up and all hope rests on his shell and a slow and steady journey…
The Tortoise’s Gift is a lovely story with the important message that you don’t have to be the fastest, the bravest, the biggest or the strongest to be the hero - it is easy to draw similarities with The Tortoise and the Hare. Whilst several animals try to get the name of the tree they all ultimately fail to return with it as they get distracted on their way back. It takes a brave and methodical tortoise who is able to focus on the task in hand to successfully return with the name of the tree - this idea of staying on task until you have completed what you set out to do is a great lesson for young readers. The delightful animals also offer up messages on persistence, kindness, sharing, being brave and stepping up to a challenge.
The story is told over five chapters and is a great introduction to chapter books. It is a very accessible read with familiar vocabulary, simple sentences and plenty of repetition. The book is beautifully illustrated throughout and the pages are filled with vibrant colours and adorable animals.
Recommended for 5+.
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