Title: Kele’s Secret
Author: Tololwa M. Mollel
Illustrated by: Catherine Stock
Length: 14 pages
Published in: 1997
Genre: children’s fiction
Challenges/Resolutions: Around the World in 12 Books
(I had originally planned on reading Paradise by Abdulrazak, but my library didn’t carry it, even through interlibrary loan. This was the closest I could come to a story set in Tanzania by a Tanzanian author. I promise, I’m not reading children’s books just because they’re easier and quick. Quite obviously, I still couldn’t finish this by the end of April.)
Summary: A young boy lives with his grandparents on their coffee farm. One of his duties is to collect the eggs, so he follows a hen named Kele to find where she is hiding her eggs.
It’s a little hard to answer the challenge questions in regards to a children’s books. But I’ll try my best.
What did you learn about the country’s culture, history etc. from reading this book? Any new insights, any shifts in your perception, or did it align with what you knew/understood already?
Well, I can honestly say that this book was too short, simple, and shallow to glean anything from it by way of actual knowledge of Tanzania. (It was only fourteen pages and, as a children’s book, it didn’t go so far as to really provide information–it was a story for stories sake.) There was a glossary in the back of the book, that explained things like “Koko” and “Akwi” (that’s grandma/old woman and grandpa/old man).
How did land, geography, flora and fauna feature in the book? Did it have a distinct feel that helped you visualise and made you feel like you were there, or was the story more focused on plot?
I actually did get to see one person’s perspective of the land, etc. Catherine Stock, the illustrator, had some wonderful illustrations for the story. (According to the book jacket, she traveled to Tanzania to see the land Mollel was describing.) It would have been hard to visualize the land without the illustrations because I have no idea what Tanzania looks like.
Did the story make you want to visit/revisit the country, or explore it in a new way if you live there already; did it make you want to read more stories set in the country?
There wasn’t a whole lot of stuff in the book to recommend or not recommend visiting Tanzania. However, I’m sure the place is a little different now, as the story was semi-autobiographical in that Mollel also grew up on a coffee farm with his grandparents, and that was awhile ago.