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My children really enjoy watching the show Tinga Tales on the Cbeebies channel. Set in Africa, each tale focuses on why an animal got a particular feature of their body, such as a Tortoise's shell. The tale is always a bit of a tall tale, but always good fun.
We were given this book for free as part of Rotherham's Imagination Library scheme. Dolly Parton's charity was established just over five years ago to send a free book every month to children aged under 5, and we have been exposed to quite a few authors and stories we might not have come across otherwise. This book has been in our home for a couple of years now. Initially it was a book I read to my boys, but my eldest son started to read these to himself at the end of his foundation year. This was surprising to me as there are quite a lot of words and some of those are not familiar, like the word Jambo for hello. But, as he had heard me read it on many occasions I am sure that this made it easier for him.
In this tale, Elephant starts the book with a short nose. He is having a problem with flies following him round and he does not know how to stop this. He asks some of the other animals for advice, and some of them being a bit unkinder than others inform him that he needs a wash. However, crocodile is in the watering hole, and when Elephant goes to try, crocodile snaps at his face, resulting in a tug of war that leaves elephant looking rather different.
Firstly what we really love about the books we have read within the series is the colour used within each page. This is a square book with each side being about 25cm. This is a lovely size for sharing with small children as there is room to all get round the book and get chance to see the pictures. The backgrounds are all vibrant oranges, pinks, purples, greens and blues. The animals are also similarly bright, with yellow and red monkeys, and Lion's mane is a fantastic halo of glory. Most visually appealing is the patchwork effect to Tortoise's shell. Elephant starts the story a bit dull in comparison, a boring grey, but by the end of the story he is happy, and his ears are a sight to behold.
Text is mostly printed in a linear fashion, but it is presented in an unusual fashion on the page which splits it up nicely. Some pages feature columns which are indicated well with blocks of colour so you have no doubt where to read next. Also, within each paragraph there are always a couple of words that are printed in a bolder text. For a child reading aloud I think this is most helpful in letting them know where to place their emphasis when speaking, and this gives the voice a lot more animation as a result.
While the tale is a little tall shall I say, my children realise that is not really why the animals look like they do. They just enjoy the story for what it is.
The images may be bright, but all the animals do still resemble the animals they are meant to even if not the correct colour. We have never had any issue picking out what each animal is.
I would say that this story is best suited for a child with reasonable concentration who can sit still for the duration of the story. My kids have been having this read to them from being about 3, and still enjoy it now with my eldest approaching seven. At 32 pages, it is quite long compared to similar books we own and there is quite a lot of text per page.
The stories are said to be inspired by traditional stories from Africa and artwork from Tanzania. There is something about them that does seem totally different to any other story book we own, and I think this is why they appeal to my kids. If you like the TV show or not, I really recommend this set of books for children, and though this story is not my personal favourite the kids do really enjoy it.