Thursday, June 26, 2008

Children's Book Review: Gugu’s House

Gugu’s House. Catherine Stock. New York: Clarion Books, 2001.

Travel to Zimbabwe with Gugu’s House where Kukamba visits her grandmother’s “beautiful rambling house” with a courtyard of animal sculptures painted with the colors of the earth. In the hot day of a drought, Gugu teaches her granddaughter the art of gathering nature’s ingredients for mixing her palette of paints. As the sun sets, the men and women return to the village after a day of work. Around the fire laughter floats as Gugu tells a story of a rabbit and tortoise. Later that night, rain arrives, then singing, clapping, and dancing. When this blessing of rain washes away the colors of Gugu’s house, she reassures Kubamba with the colors of the renewed land.

From end page to end page, this book dances with African designs. Earthy watercolor illustrations capture the culture and people surrounding Gugu and Kukamba. At the end of the story, the author includes notes and a glossary which give insight on the real life Gugu as well as many Venda words used throughout the book. ‘Gugu’ is the Venda word for grandmother. Ages 5-8.

Reviewed by Charity Leonette, Special Services Coordinator, Allegheny County Library Association. This review was printed in The Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, Vo. 6(2) 2008. Available online at

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