Bundle of Secrets : Savita Returns Home

Bundle of Secrets : Savita Returns Home Book Cover Bundle of Secrets : Savita Returns Home
Mubina Hassanali Kirmani and Tony Siema (illus.)
Fiction, CABA Winner, Elementary, Picture Book
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
28 pp.
ISBN 978-1484165843

This book is about a little girl, Savita, who travels back home to Kenya, East Africa after visiting relatives in her ancestral land of India.

Mubina Kirmani has produced a story rarely told about Kenya. She highlights Indian-Kenyans, a marginal community that has been important in the economy of the country. The central characters in this charming picture book are Savita, an Indian-Kenyan and Njeri, a Black Kenyan. Young Savita is returning to Kenya in a dhow (sailing ship) with her mother and baby brother after visiting relatives in India. Throughout the month long journey across the Indian Ocean, Savita cradles a “bundle” that Mother says must not be opened until she gets home. When Savita arrives in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa, her dad and friend Njeri are waiting for her. At home Savita and Njeri watch as mother opens the “bundle” (which contains spices).  Together they prepare muhogo wa nazi (cassava cooked with coconut milk).

The book opens with a general map that highlights India and Kenya and charts Savita’s journey across the Indian Ocean. Brief glimpses of Mombasa are provided particularly the historic district with its narrow streets and the monumental elephant tusks that are a signature feature of Mombasa. Kirmani weaves songs and languages from India and Kenya into the story and the Illustrations by Tony Siemans illuminate the multicultural character of coastal Kenya i .e. Swahili /Islamic /Indian.  Questions at the end of the book will help the reader to understand the main themes in the book and its multicultural aspects. Highly Recommended

Reviewed by: Patricia Kuntz, Independent Scholar and Anne Waliaula, University of Wisconsin

Published in Africa Access Review (April 6, 2014)

Copyright 2014 Africa Access

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