Verdict: NOTHANDO’S JOURNEY gives children a glimpse of Swazi culture and traditions through beautiful illustrations and Nothando’s interaction with her environment as she begins to discover who she is.
A young girl in Swaziland, as her journey to a very important festival turns into one of self-discovery in this beautifully illustrated and dynamic children’s story.
Set in Swaziland, NOTHANDO’S JOURNEY introduces Nothando and her brother Jabu getting ready for their journey to the Reed Festival where Nothando will dance—for the first time—in front of the King and Queen Mother. But Nothando is nervous. As they begin their trek, Jabu and Nothando choose to take the shorter, yet unknown path over the hills, instead of going through the valley which would take longer and may make them late for this very important festival. Along the way they meet an array of animals: a wild dog, an elephant, a lion, a fish eagle, and a baboon. The interactions with animals allows Nothando to learn about herself and in turn get ready to dance in the Reed Festival.
NOTHANDO’S JOURNEY is a beautifully illustrated story of a young girl overcoming her fears and learning from her surroundings. The simple syntax and third person narration pairs well with the rich, earthy tone illustrations meant to invoke a sense the beautiful culture of Swaziland. The use of various art mediums for the illustrations—including collage and painting—allows for a visually dynamic and engaging telling of Nothando’s story. It’s hard not to pause and study each beautiful page with its varying textures, colors, and shapes.
The only shortcoming—and a minor one at that—is the lean amount of information provided about the festival. Although this doesn’t detract from the story, it would have been enriching for the reader to learn more about the festival and its significance in the Swazi culture.
NOTHANDO’S JOURNEY gives children a glimpse of Swazi culture and traditions through beautiful illustrations and Nothando’s interaction with her environment as she begins to discover who she is.