Reviews – Jambo Watoto!

Jambo-WatotoFrom: School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2

“In this warm family story, four young cheetahs are left in the tall grass while their mother goes off to hunt. Various animals come by and try to tempt them to abandon their hiding place, but they remember their mother’s instructions and stay put. She returns with reports of praise for her children from the other creatures and tells the cubs that she’s proud. The family then settles down to dinner and a good night’s sleep. The nicely cadenced text has Swahili words sprinkled throughout. Some pages contain more text than others, but all feature colorful artwork in a unique style that the illustrator calls “altered monotype”-etchings with pencil and paints added that look like elaborate finger paintings. The swirls and textures work effectively to give the animals lots of charm and personality. Occasional black-and-white drawings of the cubs in the margins and cheetah-skin endpapers add to the visual appeal. This is a quiet story, but children will enjoy the animals and relate to the young cheetahs’ childlike dilemma of weighing the promise of fun against parental directives. A cozy one-on-one reading experience.”
—Arwen Marshall, New York Public Library


From: ForeWord Magazine
Exceptional !

“…this is the small publishing company’s first attempt at a children’s book that demands good story-telling to accompany its gorgeous, watercolor illustrations. How did it fare? Exceptionally well.

The book begins with Mama Duma’s counsel: “Stay, my watoto . . . Stay here and be safe.”

Mama Duma instructs her four cheetahs to hide in the grass while she goes off to hunt. But the cheetahs are tempted to come out of their hiding place—by an ostrich who crazily spins, an elephant who takes a cool dunk on a hot day, an alligator who invites the cheetahs to join him for a tasty meal, and a giraffe who tempts them with a view of the world. Do the cheetahs stay wisely in the grass or do they sneak out. The story ends with lessons that are imparted—not with a heavy or patronizing hand—but as a natural consequence of the plot.

Children between the ages of four and eight will identify with the cheetah’s struggle between freedom and obedience and delight in the whimsical drawings and lively text infused with African words (defined in a glossary). Illustrator Marsha Heatwole magically captures each of the cheetah’s unique personalities (bossy, gentle, bored. and lazy) in her paintings.


Amazon.Com Reviewer:
Entertaining and whimsical

We borrowed this book from the library and had to have it for our own collection. The story communicates values that we want to instill in our children. With charming illustrations, you are drawn into a day in the lives of four cheetah cubs, left alone by their mother as she hunts. Our four year old listens and watches with wide -eyed interest as the cubs meet some of the animals that share the savannah.


Amazon.Com Reviewer:
Magical Blend of Art, Fiction, and Fact

This book was purchased for our elementary school’s “The Cheetah – The Y.E.S. Mascot” shelf and has won the hearts of students and staff. It has all the great elements of children’s books at their best – art gallery quality drawings, a warm touching story of a mother cheetah keeping her cubs safe while she is gone hunting, and factual information presented in an simple, understandable format. The factual information on the cheetah is incorporated into the story line with skill, making it a very readable source that our reluctant readers can use as a resource in their current research papers on cheetahs. It educates and entrances both child and adult readers alike.