Sing to the Moon
Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl and Sandra van Doorn
A Ugandan boy relates one unexpectedly magical day spent at his grandfather’s house.
When he awakes it’s to the sound of the rain’s patter and the sight of dark, brooding clouds. He anticipates that none of those wishes he shared at the outset: the flight to the stars; the ocean crossing aboard a dhow to the old spice markets of Zanzibar or the flight on the back of a crested crane culminating in a wonderful forest feast, will come true.
“Sing to the moon” his Jjajja always tells him if he wants a wish granted.
Instead, there’s nothing for it but to go and join his Jjajja in the kitchen as he sips his morning tea, and together they break their fast on porridge.
The boy’s intention is to return to his room and mope but his grandfather has other ideas. Taking the boy by the hand he leads him to the storeroom …
and that’s where the magic begins as Jjajja starts to reminisce about his boyhood days.
As they pack away the peas he talks of his best friend Kirobo with the enormous smile.
Then they move to the veranda where the boy hears of Jjajja’s guava tree climbing, something his grandson also loves.
At sundown, they prepare the ingredients for a fish stew supper while the boy’s grandfather shares tales of fishing expeditions.
By now darkness has descended and then their ‘night adventures’ commence.
Jjajja has a huge stack of books, a veritable tower containing tales of brave kings and crooks; fables of long gone cities full of gold and African kingdoms. He talks of how the sky once rose and fell, as thunder raged.
Then outside they go and to the sound of echoing drums and grasshoppers’ song the lad is reminded that no matter what he’s always loved.
Now all that’s left is to savour the sweetness of the day; the boy safe in the knowledge that nothing could possibly have been as wonderful as their rainy day together, a day rounded off perfectly with Jjajja’s soft goodnight bidding, “Sing to the moon.”
Not only does this beautiful book portray that very special intergenerational relationship, the spellbinding tale also evokes the natural world and life of a distant land that most of us won’t ever visit for real, both through Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl’s rhyming narrative that’s a real joy to read aloud, and Sandra van Doorn’s absolutely stunning illustrations. I’d love to include every single one but hopefully those included here will inspire readers sufficiently to seek out their own copy of the book. It’s a must.