How do you see your family? The little girl sees her mother as a tall giraffe, her father with the pride and strength of a lion, and her sister no less than a graceful antelope. In her creative tale, Summer Burns-Allen transposes her ‘family’ to Africa, to the form and character of animals in the jungle and savanna.
Besides the physical likeness, the family members possess the traditional characteristics of the animal they resemble–her mother’s gentleness and dignity, her father’s strength, and her sister’s speed and poise. Along with these features, her family shares happy and good times with each other, eating right, exercising right, treating each other with kindness.
The little girl spends time with the individual members of her family, seeing them at work and play, their effort and pleasure. More especially, and this is the book’s unique touch, the family shares an imagination and whether performing household chores, playing tag, enjoying a picnic, practicing ballet steps, or taking a road trip, African wildlife (in good and gentle mood!) is always alongside them.
The child’s parents take the stage in turn, praising her, admiring the way she is following the path they hoped she would. Although short, the book is filled with lessons on respect, good diet, and including imagination as an integral part of their daily life. The illustrations eloquently represent scenes of family activities, though the family could do with a little more to confirm their African heritage. The animals are slightly fanciful, rather than photographic images, adding a lovely dreamlike dimension.
The absence of political leaning and behaviors with no hint of ethnic or racial difference are two of the book’s notable features This is a charming and inventive book, and it was evident (without her mentioning it) that the book is telling the imaginative tales she has created with her own children.
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