Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Is It Far to Zanzibar? by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by Betsy Lewin

This book was unique in a way because it used some language native to the area of Zanzibar. This was neat because, not only could you use it to help teach students about different cultures, but you could use it to teach about languages. Anyway, this whole book is poems about Zanzibar and, I assume, a family that lives there. Some of the poems rhyme and some of them do not, it is nice how they switched that up. One of my favorites was called Rainy Season, it goes like this:
Aiii! The raindrops streak our faces.
All at once, the shower chases
creatures from their hiding places.
Five goats, four ewes,
Three snakes, two gnus
And one field mouse
squeeze inside my house.
To be honest I don't know why I liked this one in particular, but I did. I think perhaps it was visual without over doing it. Sometime in poetry, the similes and metaphors can swallow the message and the scene. Here though, with just saying that the storm chases, you can picture the kind of storm it is. I personally see the rain sweeping over a wide open plain, kind of like how it does over the water in the summer time, and the animals are all scurrying for cover.
I like this book for all ages really because I feel like all students would benefit from the knowledge of another country and another language that is so different from ours. The poems are generally short, but all tell a little about the country and what life is like there.

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