Friday, January 4, 2019

Review: Jamhuri, Njambi & Fighting Zombies by Ted Neill

About the Book

Published April 20, 2018 by Tenebray Press

GoodReads Description

A Delight for Young Readers and the Young at Heart. 

A princess trapped in a high tree and a brash young man determined to “rescue” her; a devoted daughter searching for a magical spring to save her ailing father; a teenage girl who is forced to replace her mobile phone with a machete to protect her family from zombies—all their stories interweave in a stirring alchemy set in a rich African backdrop. Ted Neill moves readers from folktale to action, comedy to cosmology, rural to urban, material to spiritual, with the ease of a master storyteller, crafting an adventure along the way that will appeal to the head, the heart, and the soul.

About the Author: Before becoming a writer, Ted Neill worked in Global Health and Education. These stories were inspired when Neill was volunteering and living at an orphanage for HIV+ children in Nairobi Kenya. He wrote Jamhuri, Njambi, & Fighting Zombies when the children requested stories featuring people and places that reflected their own culture and their own world.

My Thoughts

What I Liked

  1. The world-building in this piece is amazing.  Although Neill doesn't take much time to explicitly describe parts of each scene, he truly brings the African backdrop that this world is set in to the reader's mind.  It is absolutely obvious how beautiful Sia's home is and how breathtaking the spirit world is.  I think there are several authors who could learn from Neill's expertise here.
  2. In many anthologies, the short stories never connect.  I was blown away by how well the first two stories connected in and with the third.  Everything finally comes together.  Although I don't know a lot about African culture, I understand that connectivity is very important to them.  I like that the culture was represented in this way as well as in the scenery, animals, plants, and people described.
  3. This book would be a lot of fun to teach.  Many textbooks have African literature that is very difficult for students to relate to.  The characters in this piece would give them the connectivity and relevance that they require.  Neill takes his time to introduce foreign flora and fauna which would give World Literature students a great place to dive in to foreign literature.

What I Didn't Like As Much

  1. This book definitely needs a pronunciation guide.  I was sooooooooooo beyond grateful for the audiobook because it was the only way I knew that I was pronouncing so much wrong!  I felt very culturally insensitive because of my mistakes.  I always expect my students to pronounce names as intended, but this book did not make that easy for me to do.  
  2. Several concepts were explained once and then later revisited.  However, they were often revisited much later, so I'd already forgotten what that concept was.  It would be helpful if there was a little bit of a refresher for these ideas.
Overall, I really liked this book!  The description is not kidding when it says this book is for young readers and those who are young at heart.

My Rating

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