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Thursday, March 8, 2012


Charming book for children carries strong message about dealing and caring for animals. (Review by Caroline Smart)

With the Minister of Arts & Culture, Mr Paul Mashatile, advocating the building of more libraries, at long last, the powers that be have recognised the vital importance of reading in the development of young people today. It has been proven through the centuries that a capacity to read and therefore the acquisition of a wider vocabulary enhances an individual’s chance of social upliftment and better employment.

Today’s youngsters are in danger of losing command of the written word altogether with the constant use of condensed writing used for cellphone texting.

This concern about encouraging young people to read has prompted Durban educator and writer Robynne Naidoo to launch her first book for children, Kim’s Visit to the Animal Farm. She is also believes that her love for writing is the only way for her to be directly involved with educating children from the different cultural backgrounds.

In dedicating the book to her children, Breyton (aged 7) and Janaye (7 months), she asks: “Please remember that your life is like magnificent colourful play dough, in your hands, only you can mould it into the magical splendour that you want it to be.”

Produced on good quality paper, Kim’s Visit to the Animal Farm tells the short and simple story of Kim and her two red-headed friends who set off on a school outing to see what life on a farm is like. Underlying the story are messages regarding good behaviour – as the schoolchildren are asked to form an orderly line while getting on the bus and not push or rush.

There is a strong message about dealing and caring for animals and that they are not toys to manhandle. At the end of the farm visit, Kim wants to take one of the rabbits home as a pet but is firmly told that the animal’s home is at the farm and not in the city.

Many young people living in cities only ever get to know farm animals from pictures and I think a good addendum to this book would be a sheet of stick-on/peel-off images of horses, sheep, cows, goats, dogs, cats, doves, geese, etc. There are plenty of wide green spaces in the illustrations, giving an idea of the extent of farm lands as opposed to contained city life. These stick on images could be attached to these spaces and moved around as the child learns animal interaction, such as the fact that putting cats and doves together is asking for trouble!

Robynne Naidoo loves animals and enjoys visiting the animal farm. “It's so tranquil to spend time surrounded by nature and God's wonderful creations,” she says. “I wrote the book because I love to be able to instil good values in children and to be able to educate and nurture them.

She has shown a good approach to education through her book and I hope that she will continue to produce more publications like this.

Produced by Xlibris Publishers with charming illustrations by Durban-based Avashna Krishoondutt, Kim’s Visit to the Animal Farm will be launched this weekend. It is available to purchase directly from the writer on and through book stores at a later stage. Cost R75. ISBN 978-1-4653-9967-0 – Caroline Smart