Ten-year-old Benedict is feeling happy. His family's new home in Swaziland has the most beautiful garden in the whole entire world, teeming with insects, frogs and his favourite cinnamon-coloured birds.
Here, crouched in the cool shade of the lucky-bean tree, it's easy to forget the loneliness that comes from his siblings playing without him, easy to stop himself fretting about how to fix his Mama's failing cake-baking business.
Not that Benedict generally allows sad or uncomfortable things to cloud his day.
Usually, he simply finds a way to put things right. Like trying to learn the language of his strange new country, to make himself feel less of an outsider.
Like persuading the people at Ubuntu Funerals to provide a decent burial for the beautiful hoopoe killed by their van. Or like being a friend to Nomsa, a girl brave enough to pick up a spider but too afraid to tell anyone why her teacher is making her stay late after school.
Of course, there are many things in Africa that cannot be put right by a boy who isn't yet big.
But in Benedict's wonder-filled world, even the ugliest situation has a certain magic. Warm, funny and brimming with life, Where Hoopoes Go to Heaven paints a fresh and compelling picture of life in Swaziland that will capture your imagination and restore your faith in humanity.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 336 pages
- Publisher: Atlantic Books
- Publication Date: 01/02/2012
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780857894083
- Paperback from £7.25
- EPUB from £5.99
Showing 1 - 1 of 1 reviews.
Review by VivienneR
This book continues the story of Angel and her family in <i>Baking Cakes in Kigali</i> when they lived in Rwanda. Pius (Baba) is originally from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania who goes where his job takes him. His wife Angel earns income by baking cakes, a legal business in Rwanda but "under the table" in Swaziland. All of their children are actually grandchildren whose parents are "late". Benedict often refers to his "first mama" and "first baba". The story is presented from 10 year-old Benedict's viewpoint. He describes moving between African countries with all the attendant issues such as the differences in language and culture. However, he is delighted to have a collection of books in their rented house and a garden where he spends a lot of his free time. This appealing boy attempts to find a solution for every problem, including his Mama's fading cake-baking business.Although the writing is lighthearted the story behind it is complex and serious. Reading between the lines provides a more telling story of the changing circumstances many families are experiencing, brought about by the political and health upheavals of war and AIDS. In a postscript, the author claims Swaziland has the highest rate of AIDS in the world. Nevertheless, this book is a charmer that I can recommend highly.