cover image Traveling to Tondo

Traveling to Tondo

Verna Aardema. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $14 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-80081-1

``One day in the town of Tondo, Bowane the civet cat met a beautiful feline he wanted for a wife.'' After returning home to collect the necessary goods, Bowane sets out for Tondo to claim his bride. He asks three friends--pigeon, python and turtle--to accompany him, little dreaming of the delays that will ensue as first one, then another, asks the rest to wait. As considerable time passes in this fashion, the reader gleefully sees what Bowane cannot: that by the time they get to Tondo, it may well be too late. This is vintage Aardema--a spirited, evocative retelling of an African tale in which animals illustrate--and exaggerate--some of our most human foibles. The text begs to be read aloud, in part because of the unforced inclusion of African words that heighten the tale's rhythm and mood. Using muted, earthy tones, Hillenbrand gives a fine sense of the lush jungle and grassy savannah, though his focus never wavers from the four friends and their foolishness. Ages 5-9. (Feb.)