Handa’s Noisy Night

Handa’s Noisy Night
Eileen Browne
Walker Books

Yippee! A new Handa story. Handa’s Surprise was one of THE most loved, most read picture books when I taught under sevens, so I was super excited to get my hands on a copy of this.

Handa goes to spend the night with her friend Akeyo and the girls are to sleep alone in the hut.

Having bid goodnight to the rest of Akeyo’s family, off they go but almost before the door is closed Handa hears a snorting sound outside. Akeyo insists it’s just her dad laughing.

During the night there are more sounds – chattering, rattling,

squeaking, slurping, crying and finally a thud. Rather than the grown-ups talking, Mum making music, Grandpa’s rusty bike, Nan having her bedtime drink and Akeyo’s baby that her friend claims are the cause,

readers see what is actually happening outside.

In the morning a tapping wakes Handa and when her friend opens the door, nobody’s there.

Mum’s “Did you sleep well?’ receives an accusation that the noises from other family members meant a wakeful night, which is quickly countered with, “We were as quiet as mice”.

The glowing Kenyan landscape and stunningly patterned clothes of the characters are signature Handa story elements, but here we’re treated to the delights of some of the resident fauna of the area- a bushpig, bat-eared foxes, an African porcupine, yellow-winged bats, a tree pangolin, lesser bush-babies, the magnificent spotted eagle-owl and a Nubian woodpecker, each one in its full glory (all are named in the author’s notes at the front).

It’s hard to believe the original Handa story is now 25 years old; I still have a treasured copy of the first edition and she’s lost none of her magic. Happily now though there are more BAME books available: this one is a ‘must have’ addition to any family bookshelf or nursery/KS1 class library.

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