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Jacana

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

The Wild Fluffalump: a bedtime story which delivers an important message about extinction

A muddy baby elephant goes to sleep under a tall Cottonseed tree, where the leopard’s child has been bouncing all night.

It wakes up as a giant white fluffy ball and doesn’t recognise itself.

The animals come one by one and pull and lick and tug, trying to figure out what it is.

The battle being fought by admirable souls to keep elephants from extinction is steady but slow. A change in mind set is perhaps needed in the formative years, when cuddly bears and koalas and penguins and seal-pups rate high on the Hug-o-meter.

Now what if children from Africa to China could learn to see rhinos and elephants as wonderful animals to cuddle and to feel protective towards for a lifetime …

Also available in Afrikaans, isiXhosa & isiZulu.

Bruce Hobson writes as Mwenye Hadithi (meaning ‘story teller’ in Swahili). Born in Nairobi, Bruce grew in a house with a wild garden, visited by gazelles and porcupines and warthogs. A crocodile once went to sleep by the ironing board, and a hippopotamus got stuck in the back gate. As a child he kept tarantula-like spiders as pets and at school they were often confronted by baboons on the hockey field. From there he went to Rugby School in England, and studied foreign literature at London University. This inspired him to write, stirred by those traditional oral stories from Africa where the foibles of village characters, thinly disguised as animals, would lead to a moral lesson.

However, publishers weren’t keen on stories where hyenas had their bottoms sewn up in order to eat a lot, so in the best tradition of storytellers the world over, he borrowed bits from the old stories and wove them in with fresh threads of humour and his own motifs, and the Hadithi series’ Greedy Zebra was published in 1984.

Adrienne Kennaway grew up all over the world, but spent most of her formative life in Kenya, where an interest in wildlife soon turned to art, especially painting animals. Ealing Tech in London and L’Academie Bella Arte in Rome honed her skill and she became notably successful with her vivid watercolour illustrations for Mwenye Hadithi’s African folktale series. She has illustrated over 30 children’s books and her illustrations for Hadithi’s Crafty Chameleon won the Kate Greenaway Prize. Adrienne now enjoys spending time in the Irish countryside, capturing the local wildlife on canvas.

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