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Thursday, December 26, 2013


Delightful storybook deals with trust, dreams, friendship and protection of those smaller and more vulnerable than you are. (Review by Caroline Smart)

Mister Sengi's Very Big Friend is a charming story about a little elephant shrew called Mister Sengi with text by Charles de Villiers and illustrations by David du Plessis. De Villiers will be remembered for his storyline in Curly the Chameleon (recently reviewed on artSMart) and this book forms du Plessis' companion volume to his earlier Mister King's Incredible Journey.

Elephant shrews eat insects, have scaly tails and long noses which they are able to twist in search of food. They were originally called elephant shrews because of their resemblance to elephants. They are not part of the usual shrew family and, in fact, are more closely related to elephants than similar animals such as rodents. However, biologist Jonathan Kingdon proposed they be called “sengi”s in deference to their African origins.

Elephant shrews - or sengis - are small in size, between 10 and 30 centimetres and it is on this smallness that the creators of Mister Sengi’s Very Big Friend have built their storyline.

Mister Sengi starts off his day in his normal way, sweeping the paths around him in a tidy manner to aid his search for juicy titbits for dinner. He dreams of what it would be like to be really huge. In fact, so big that nothing can frighten him. He confides this to his friends – a mantis and a firefly - but they are too small to help or advise. The one has only flown to the tops of grass stalks and the other only comes out at night.

A friendly tortoise comes along and offers to fulfil Mister Sengi’s dream of meeting a real elephant and so an exciting yet dangerous journey follows.

This delightful storybook with its charming illustrations deals with trust, dreams, friendship and protection of those smaller and more vulnerable than you are.

Mister Sengi's Very Big Friend is published in softcover by RandomStruik ISBN: 9781775840107. Recommended retail price R80.

Mister Sengi's Very Big Friend Activity Book ISBN: 978177584012 1 is a perfect companion with its activity programmes, stickers and a paper toy. It’s a must at R50.

The book is also available in Afrikaans. – Caroline Smart