Sep 12, 2011

Wandi’s Little Voice by Ellen Banda-Aaku – A Review

2004, Children's Fiction
 Macmillan Publishers, 64 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1-4050-6040-0

Wandi’s Little Voice is Ellen Banda-Aaku’s debut book. The book won the Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa, 2004 in the New Children’s Writer category.

This delightful tale is told from Wandi’s point of view. She’s a young girl on the cusp of puberty dealing with an overbearing mother, a downtrodden father and interfering family members. Wandi’s mother is an entertaining woman – she is very conscious about social standing and appearances, and does everything she can to present a ‘proper’ picture of her family. She forbids Wandi from mixing with the children of Matelo township, which is perplexing to Wandi because she enjoys playing in Matelo; in her words “Matelo was an experience…children were free to play.”

Wandi also struggles to understand why her mother gets away with exaggerations and white lies, when this is something she herself gets punished for as a child. It’s one of those hypocrisies that adults live with.

As the story progresses we get to understand Wandi’s parents and other family members a little better through her eyes. As she becomes more cognizant of things around her, there’s an accompanying level of maturity and empathy that wells up inside her.

For a book that’s only 64 pages long, Banda-Aaku juggles quite a bit of content more than just competently. The pace was just right; it wasn’t preachy or full of clichés. This is a great read, and something I definitely needed. How could I not love a book that gave me many laugh out loud moments, and a trip down memory lane to my own childhood? 


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