The first remark that must be uttered about Barrington Bear On Safari is that the vibrant photos taken by photographer and author Keith Szafranski are stunning and delightfully suited to the book’s simple text. In addition, Szafranski has crafted an enlightening gem of a story for young readers focusing on a teddy bear named Barrington Bear and his chimpanzee driver-guide, Sokwe as they enjoy an African safari.
As the tale unfolds, Barrington Bear is greeted at the Nairobi Airport by Sokwe who immediately introduces him to several words in Swahili-the common language of East Africa and further promises to teach him many more as they travel around Africa.
Nairobi National Park, just outside of the city, is the first stop on their journey
where Barrington Bear is amazed to catch sight of “real” zebras or “Punda milia,” and black rhinos that are called “Kifaru.” To boot, two more Swahili words are introduced to Barrington Bear, “sawa sawa,” which means O.K. and “lala salama,” the term for sleep.
The following day brings us to the Masai Mara Reserve, where Barrington Bear and Sokwe enjoy the sight of a myriad of animals such as lions in the tall grass, cheetahs, hippos, a gray-headed kingfisher, the acacia tree, giraffes, an impala, a large vulture, a crocodile, an ostrich and elephants. Once again, Sokwe teaches Barrington Bear the names of all of these animals in Swahili as well as some of the animals’ behavioural patterns and idocycrisies.
Another highlight of Barrington Bear’s African safari is a visit to a Masai village where he is introduced to a Masai warrior wearing a mask and carrying a spear. He is told that the warrior and other young men protect the village from wild animals.
The story ends with Barrington Bear telling us that he enjoyed the safari and what he liked most were the giraffes.
The narrative with its crisp and lively dialogue is cleverly narrated and educational, evoking East Africa’s magic, color, and exquisite beauty. Szafranski’s vibrant, colorful photos do a superb job of bringing the text to life. And as youngsters always find something magical and fascinating in learning words from another language, I am sure they will welcome a few from Swahili. Perhaps, at their next family gathering they may even greet their family and friends in Swahili and throw in a few other words for good measure. As an added plus, the book includes a succinct Swahili dictionary that reviews all of the words taught to Barrington Bear during the safari.
In all, while teachers, librarians, parents and young readers will welcome this book as a quick, attractive, and delightful read, it may also easily serve as a imaginative curriculum resource to initiate discussions pertaining to African travel.
The above review was contributed by: The Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com, Norm Goldman, B.A. LL.L, Retired Title Attorney: Norm is also a travel writer and together with his artist wife, Lily, the couple meld Norm's words with Lily's art. To check out their travel site click on Sketchandtravel.comClick here to view Norm’s Reviews & Interviews.
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