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Fiction Picture Book
Pages: 24
Themes: Immigration, homesickness, belonging
Publisher: Second Story Press
Pub Date: 01/Sep/2011
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Maiko has left his village in Tanzania far behind, moving to Canada with his aunt and uncle. When he thinks of home, he thinks of the beautiful big baobab tree at the center of the village. In his new home, Maiko feels a connection to the small spruce tree in the front yard—it's seven years old, the same age as he is. The tree sings to him and shares his secrets. When he learns that the roots of the tree are growing too close to the house, putting the little spruce in danger of being cut down, Maiko tries to save it. He knows all too well what it's like to be small and planted in the wrong place.

Kirkus Reviews
"Watercolors with pleasantly loose ink lines show generic scenes in Africa and multicultural North America...[A] gentle, purposeful story."
Quill & Quire
"A charming read that, without being too syrupy-sweet, offers encouragement to anyone who has ever felt they're in the wrong place...The conversations between Maiko and the tree are particularly superb, capturing the charm and innocence expected of any seven-year-old, but containing the ache of someone who longs for the past. The spare narrative leaves room for readers to craft their own opinions, making the book a good tool for starting conversations...[and] the book's illustrations offer a window onto Maiko's different worlds."
CM Magazine
"A sweet story about a boy who moves from Africa to North America, and doesn't quite fit in...The themes of love, loss and belonging in Dear Baobab are universally appealing. Maiko's homesickness and his pain over the loss of his parents are treated honestly but delicately. Children facing upheaval in their lives will find this book especially engaging, and perhaps even inspiring. Foggo's lyrical text is perfect for reading aloud, and certain expressions nearly turn the story into poetry... Foggo clearly has a gift for descriptive writing...The beautiful illustrations, shaded in pencil, are bursting with emotion. The characters' facial expressions are particularly effective in revealing their feelings. Dear Baobab deals with serious, even tragic, subject matter with a great deal of grace. Maiko's identification with the spruce tree provides an uplifting metaphor which prevents the story from getting bogged down. Instead, Maiko's story is simple and buoyant and will appeal to a wide range of children. Highly Recommended."
Happy Nappy Bookseller blog
"A wonderful story...[and] Leng's illustrations are a very good match."
Resource Links
"A suitable and engaging story for young children adapting to change...Qin Leng illustrates the story with sensitivity...This book is highly recommended for both school and public libraries."
Canadian Teacher
"This sweetly illustrated picture book is the story of a small boy's struggle to develop a sense of belonging in a new country. All primary aged children can relate to his vulnerability and to the many emotions expressed in Maiko's story, making it an ideal venue for teaching the concept of making connections."
The Horn Book Guide
"Heartfelt. Expressive, uncluttered illustrations help convey emotion."


ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award finalist  | 2012 | Short-listed

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