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Babu's Song

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K-Gr 2-A warm, heartrending story set in Tanzania. Bernardi loves to play soccer and to hum a song that his grandfather taught him before the man lost his voice. Babu fashions toys out of bits of tin and scraps of wood that the boy collects and then sells them at market. Together they make enough to live on but not to pay the fees required to send Bernardi to school. One evening Babu surprises his grandson with a music box he has made that plays their favorite tune. A tourist in the market is intent on buying it even though Bernardi insists that it is not for sale. Finally, the amount she offers is enough to buy a coveted soccer ball and the temptation is too great to resist. He has second thoughts, however, and tearfully hands over the money to Babu, who uses it to enroll Bernardi in school. The man has also fashioned a homemade soccer ball from string and a gunnysack and begins to work on a new music box. The tale is told with economy of language but with heaps of feeling. The characters come to life and their loving relationship and lean lifestyle are described with dignity and respect. Boyd's impressionistic watercolors capture the rich colors of the countryside and the market and effectively convey the story's emotions. Babu's Song will resonate with a wide range of readers.-Luann Toth, School Library Journal Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Set in Tanzania, Stuve-Bodeen's (Elizabeti's Doll) predictable but touching story focuses on a boy who lives with his grandfather, a mute toymaker (Illness had taken his voice a long time ago). Bernardi sells Babu's toys at market, bringing home enough money for the two to live but not enough to pay for the two things Bernardi most wants school tuition and his own soccer ball. One evening Babu gives Bernardi a present: a handmade music box that plays a tune that Babu used to sing. When the lad brings it to market along with other toys, a tourist offers him so much money that he agrees to sell it. Resisting the temptation to buy a soccer ball with the cash, he gives it to Babu, who spends the money in a way that will please though not surprise readers. Despite the obvious set-up and occasionally strained writing (He loved soccer and his one concern was making a goal), the rapport between grandfather and grandson emerges as genuinely heartwarming. Debut artist Boyd contributes impressionistic and vivid watercolors. The perspective is sometimes muddled but the characters are full of life. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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