Review Blog

May 26 2009

Akimbo and the baboons by Alexander McCall Smith

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Allen and Unwin, 2009.
You know you are in safe hands when the author, McCall Smith turns his prodigious talent to writing for children. Drawing on his childhood in Africa, he has developed a series of books about Akimbo, the son of the head ranger on a game reserve.
In this story, Akimbo is joined by his good friend and cousin, Kosi for the school holidays. A city boy, Kosi loves staying on the reserve, and when the boys find that a scientist is arriving soon to study the habits of the baboons, they are agog with expectation. When she arrives, Akimbo's father must tell her that her anticipated assistant will not be able to accompany her, so the two boys go instead.
A five hour drive finds them fetching wood to make a fire in the small wooden hut prepared for her arrival, and the next day they sit and watch the troop of baboons nearby. Noticing that one has a bleeding leg, the three decide to do something about its pain and suffering. Their first aid, given to the baboon with wire around his leg, is repaid later in the story when the two boys become lost.
A seemingly simple story along the lines of the Lion and the Mouse, Akimbo and the Baboons, not only teaches a good lesson to the readers, but informs them about many aspects of African life. This story will prove a hit read aloud to junior primary classes, and be enjoyed by middle to upper primary students as well. For students studying Africa, its animals, or aspects of African life, this book is invaluable.
Fran Knight

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