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Dianne Hofmeyr’s The Name of the Tree is Bojabi Delights Red Hill Readers

Dianne Hofmeyr

The Simonstown Library filled with children from Red Hill, the nearby informal settlement, late on a Friday afternoon recently. There was something quite worldly wise in their faces as they waited for London-based author Dianne Hofmeyr to arrive. Hofmeyr was visiting South Africa to share with young readers her recent titles, The Name of the Tree is Bojabi and Oliver Strange and the Journey to the Swamps.
Jay HealeOliver Strange and the Journey to the SwampsThe Name of the Tree is BojabiJay Heale of Book Chat teamed up with Lesley Beake and volunteers from the Children’s Book Network to commence the story hour. His audience seemed wary and weary, almost humouring him as he danced in the imaginary shoes of the tale he was reading.

Gradually they warmed to the proceedings with clicking and clapping games while Hofmeyr set up her props – a monkey, a cloth pomegranate, a tortoise and a set of coconut clappers for calling forth the rhythms of the jungle. Volunteers from the audience enacted a spectacular adventure to find out the name of the tree. By the end of the story, each child had had a turn to help the tortoise on her journey, to speed the zebra on his way, or to feed the fearsome python who insisted on knowing the name of the tree.

No book bash can be considered complete without proper jollification and the young volunteers from Red Hill set the tone, making magical movements and suitable animal sounds fit for a feeding frenzy. Lion and zebra cupcakes completed their delight and the stack of books was handed to Lesley Beake for use in future workshops.

No stranger to accolades and awards, Hofmeyr’s The Name of the Tree is Bojabi, illustrated with Piet Grobler, was recently awarded second place in the ABSA South African Early Childhood Development Awards. Since 2003 the prize has been awarded to books that stimulate a love for reading amongst babies and young children.

Di Hofmeyr with volunteers from the Children's Book Network

Hofmeyr chose to use some of her R20 000 prize to sponsor copies of the book to the Children’s Book Network, which encourages literacy. This organisation’s goal is “to bring books to children and children to books – to make reading cool.” Their community workshops are planned with, by, and for the children that attend them.

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Liesl Jobson tweeted from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:

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