cover image Over the Green Hills

Over the Green Hills

Rachel Isadora. Greenwillow Books, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10509-9

As in At the Crossroads , the versatile Isadora ( Ben's Trumpet ) here presents a radiant portrait of quotidian life in rural South Africa. Zolani, his mother and his younger sister set off on foot to visit Grandma Zindzi. En route a shop owner hands them a pumpkin to bring to the older woman, and some friends whose house they pass give Zolani his very first book; mother trades dried fish for firewood and purchases a speckled hen, which she carries on her head with her other belongings; and the boy helps a man lift his pig out of the mud. Their disappointment at finding Grandma's house empty gives way to joy as Zolani hears the familiar sound of her pennywhistle in the distance. The kindness of the South African people is at the heart of this affecting story, told as much through Isadora's vibrantly hued, arresting watercolors--spotlighting the local landscape, wildlife and customs--as her eloquent writing. The final image of Zolani and Grandma making music together against a radiant sunset is not soon forgotten. Ages 4-up. (May)