When Charles Colman’s family move to Uganda, Africa, in 1953, they discover a world far different than post-WWII Britain. Very large snakes could bite or squeeze a young boy to death. There’s also dysentery, malaria, the bump behind the ear that turns out to be a tick that makes Charles ill with dire symptoms first misdiagnosed as meningitis. Flies lay eggs under the skin that hatch into maggots. Earthquakes abound, strong enough to crack cement. Conflicts flare between African tribes, and between civilians harassed by the Baganda police. Huge flying cockroaches can land on one’s face, swim in one’s milk, and squeal when cornered. As backdrop to these facets of Ugandan life, a revolution for independence from British imperial rule is brewing.
There are many pros to this book: the tales and language used to tell them are age-appropriate for children while simultaneously layered enough to hold the interest of adults. There are adventures shared with friends such as shooting ripe mangoes from high trees with slingshots, and racing small brown puddle frogs along with a (pilfered) kikere bullfrog the size of five mangoes in a bathtub. Numerous illustrations and facts are provided throughout, as well as additional resources including a glossary; and these are each fascinating.
The only flaw is this book’s e-formatting. Checked on several e-readers, they include a Table of Contents which appears at the end, comprised only of chapters 12 and 14. A more complete TOC should appear at the beginning and should include clickable hotlinks to every chapter along with the book’s introduction, author’s notes, resources, etc. Also directly following each chapter heading there are consistently odd spaces in the midst of that chapter’s initial word. Such errors should be corrected, lest they hinder readers from finding and enjoying what is otherwise a dynamite book.
From being cared for by traditional ayahs (nanny/nursemaids) to life-threatening encounters with musota snakes, as seen through young C.H. Colman’s eyes, the reminiscences of MY UGANDAN HILL come wonderfully to life. Readers of all ages, parents, teachers, take note: supported by judicious use of Luganda and Swahili terms, native concepts, and introductions to African wildlife, this is a perfect tale for pleasure reading and education.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader