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Monday, December 24, 2012


Delightful publication for youngsters deals with an African Grey and his friend, Belinda the Bee. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Author Susan Long and illustrator Claire Norden have come up with a delightful publication for youngsters with A Scarlet Tail telling the story of an African Grey Parrot and his friend, the bee.

The story is told in enchanting and refreshing rhyming verse as we learn about Nebuchadnezzar the Third (the parrot) who loves major aerial frolics. He has “a look in his eyes that might well speak of mischief or daring new deeds” and Belinda (the bee) whose “serious and responsible task” is to spread nectar. They live in the deep jungles of Africa and the book tells how they spend their days in their various activities before indulging in a game of chess and snuggling up together for the night in a comfortable tree.

Here are a few examples of the text:

Ah that bright flash of scarlet, a wonderful sight –
All those greys touched with red, a designer’s delight,
His environment too is a treat to behold;
Up above there’s blue sky and a sun of pure gold
To young Nebuchadnezzar it’s home and it’s fine;
Just the place for a parrot, all trees, the odd vine
Where most splendid seeds, buds and berries all grow
In a garden he need neither sow, hoe nor mow.
There he dwells in his jungle, no costs are incurred
In the lifestyle of Nebuchadnezzar the Third

And her name is Belinda, she’s smart and she’s cute;
Somewhat glossy, in yellow and black – a zoot suit
For a bee that is busy among bloom and flower
As she gathers the nectar and spreads hour by hour,
All the pollen that needs to be taken with care
Between different plants that she knows around there.

A Scarlet Tail is a good introduction to African Greys (we are owned by one ourselves!) and author Susan Long has perfectly captured the temperament and impish nature of these birds. Based in Durban, Claire Norden is a graphic designer who specialises in children’s book illustrations. Her work in this book is skilful, quirky and endearing.

This is a beautiful gift for any child – self-reading for early readers and a perfect book to read to children whose imagination will respond to the delightful tale.

A Scarlet Tail is published by Struik Nature in softcover ISBN: 9781920572761. Recommended Retail price: R75. – Caroline Smart