“The typical African experience that we know of, for example, The Lion King (savannas with elephants, lions and drums), is very clearly recognizable in this book, and that makes it a bit Disney-like at first sight. But, to be honest, the stories have much more depth and mysticism.”

What a nice compliment from Afrika News about my children’s book ‘Balla and the Forest of Legends’!

– Balla, the Griot

Find here the original link to the book review of Africa News in Dutch.

Below is the English translation of the book review from Africa News:

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An artistic children’s book with age-old African legends
The children’s book Balla and the Forest of Legends is the first volume in the series The Chronicles of Ubuntopia. It is beautifully illustrated and is a mix of comics, an overarching storyline and background information.

Different cultures from different corners of Africa are fused together in a clever and almost imperceptible way into a story that could come from any African culture. The storyteller is the West African griot Balla, and the two stories from Africa that are hundreds and hundreds of years old are about love, friendship, cleverness and leadership. The typical African experience that we know of, for example, The Lion King (savannas with elephants, lions and drums), is very clearly recognizable in this book, and that makes it a bit Disney-like at first glance. But, to be honest, the stories have much more depth and mysticism.

For children with a special connection to Africa
Balla and the Forest of Legends is the first part of the series The Chronicles of Ubuntopia. The second part of this series will appear in the fall. It is written for all children who love beautiful stories, and especially for children who have a special connection to Africa. The experience is complete because, in addition to the realistically drawn comic strips, you can easily take side steps in the story through the overarching storyline structure of the stories. The stories are detailed and explained in the overarching storyline, and in WikiTopia you will find background information that makes the stories even more alive.

In addition to this background information, there is also a Facebook page and a website where you can find information about Balla and his stories. For example, there is an Ubuntopia format for a school presentation or a manual to make a talking stick. There you will also find the WikiTopia with facts about the legends and Africa and children can ask Balla their questions.

Buy one, share one
When you buy this book, you not only buy a copy yourself, but the publisher GreenDreamWorks also sends a free English-language book to a less fortunate child from the countries where the stories come from, in this case South Africa and Kenya.

The makers
Leontine van Hooft previously wrote two management books about Ubuntu, which were published by Thema, and also translated into English. Ubuntu is an African philosophy which means “I exist because of we”. You cannot function as a person if you are not part of a larger whole. Her first book, The Power of African Thinking, has won several awards, including The Voice Achievers Award. The second book, The Road to Gross Global Happiness, was in the top 10 of Management Books for some time.
The drawings in the book were made by Jean-Claude Ngumire, a Rwandan illustrator and culture expert living in the Netherlands. In his home country, he graduated as a Graphic Designer at the Nyundo Art Academy. Since then he has made the most beautiful (moving) drawings for newspapers, magazines, textbooks, advertisements and film productions. Jean-Claude always knows how to make the perfect combination between modern times and his African roots.
The book has been translated into English by Mavis Akinyi Olum. More than eight years ago she moved to the Netherlands. During her childhood in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, she enjoyed the wonderful stories that were passed on from generation to generation. Now that she is a mother herself, she tells those stories to her own daughter. In this way, she not only passes on those stories, but also introduces her daughter to her mother’s, and her mother’s mother’s, culture. The fact that her daughter recognizes herself in the stories makes it extra fun.

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