E is for Ethiopia ¦ S is for South Africa
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This issue’s cover illustration is from Nick Sharrat’s One Fluffy Baa-Lamb, Ten Hairy Caterpillars. Nick Sharratt is interviewed by Joanna Carey. Thanks to Alison Green Books for their help with this September cover.
By clicking here you can view, print or download the fully artworked Digital Edition of BfK 184 September 2010.
E is for Ethiopia
photographs by Betelhem Abate and Atakiti Mulu
S is for South Africa
photographs by Prodeepta Das
Here are two new titles in a well-produced series of alphabet books with photographic representations of particular countries.
In each case, an author’s note at the beginning gives a brief description of the country with two simple maps, one showing the country’s position on the continent of Africa and another its bordering countries. There is a pleasant consistency to the look and layout of the series (with some variation in the design of page borders) with lots of white space around the letters of the alphabet, their accompanying text and photographs. The latter are varied in size and number – some pages have just the one photograph, others have two and occasionally there is a montage of a number of pictures, so the books are visually very appealing.
E is for Ethiopia is notable also for the fact that its authors are four young Ethiopians who have been sponsored to give this photographic account; two of them have hopes for careers in film and photography. Their photographs are vibrant, rich in content and quality. Their choices of which aspects of Ethiopia to show give us a meaningful snapshot of their cultural heritage and current context. The text is well-written, accessible and clearly linked to the photographs. It sometimes gives us words in Amharic:
‘Ff is for Fidel – the alphabet. We have our own numbers, a special calendar and own Amharic alphabet. It has 216 characters with different shapes and sounds…’
The text ofS is for South Africa, penned as it is by Beverley Naidoo, reads very differently. It is both poetic and powerful. The vibrancy here is in both text and photographs, capturing the richness and diversity of the land and its people, its past and present:
‘Ff is for Faces, ancestors from many places with stories to share of one human race. Let all our children be laughing and peaceful, and understand the wisest saying of our rainbow nation: “People are people through other people!”’
The text sings out from this particular title in this worthy series.