Author: Claerwen Howie
Illustrator: Meg Jordi
Publisher : Bumble Books
ISBN : 9 780980 26 1059
Reviewer: Dr Dawn Gould
The storyline of the book is about two young children who visit their grandmother and their adventures during the stay. As the story unfolds so are the themes of nature conservation, care for the earth and nature’s creatures – specifically for the geometric tortoise – as well as one’s surroundings. The kindly mentor of these observations is the Afrikaans speaking, wise Oom Kallas. He guides the children in the veld gently informing and pointing out the details they can immediately see. Then the sheer terror and brutality of fire threatens the environment. The reader learns of the result of fire, death and escape of many small creatures, the coming together of communities to help fight the destructive power of fire, the bravery of those who fight the flames.
This is a very South African story. The dialogue of Oom Kallas is translated into English in side boxes. It definitely adds a certain distinctiveness to the story. As do the illustrations. The Elandsberg Nature Reserve is thanked “for their generous sponsorship”. We wish them success in their attempt to keep the geometric tortoise and the other animals on the reserve, safe and healthy.
As an adult I enjoyed reading Oom Kallas and the Tortoises.