Babu's Song

Overview

Bernardi loves to play soccer and would love to go to school too, but he and his grandfather, Babu, cannot afford to pay for schooling. Babu makes toys and Bernardi sells them at the market. Together they make enough money to get by.

One night Babu gives Bernardi a special gift — a handmade music box that plays a song Babu used to sing when he still had his voice. That night and many nights after, Bernardi falls asleep listening to Babu's song....

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Overview

Bernardi loves to play soccer and would love to go to school too, but he and his grandfather, Babu, cannot afford to pay for schooling. Babu makes toys and Bernardi sells them at the market. Together they make enough money to get by.

One night Babu gives Bernardi a special gift — a handmade music box that plays a song Babu used to sing when he still had his voice. That night and many nights after, Bernardi falls asleep listening to Babu's song.

At the market the next Saturday, a tourist offers Bernardi so much money for the music box, he cannot resist. Now he can buy the new soccer ball he has always wanted! When Bernardi returns home his difficult dilemma is resolved in a surprising turn of events that strengthens the love he and Babu share.

Set in contemporary Tanzania, this warm and tender intergenerational story is sure to touch readers of all ages.

In Tanzania, Bernardi's mute grandfather makes him a wonderful music box and then helps him realize his dream of owning a soccer ball and going to school.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in Tanzania, Stuve-Bodeen's (Elizabeti's Doll) predictable but touching story focuses on a boy who lives with his grandfather, a mute toymaker (Illness had taken his voice a long time ago). Bernardi sells Babu's toys at market, bringing home enough money for the two to live but not enough to pay for the two things Bernardi most wants school tuition and his own soccer ball. One evening Babu gives Bernardi a present: a handmade music box that plays a tune that Babu used to sing. When the lad brings it to market along with other toys, a tourist offers him so much money that he agrees to sell it. Resisting the temptation to buy a soccer ball with the cash, he gives it to Babu, who spends the money in a way that will please though not surprise readers. Despite the obvious set-up and occasionally strained writing (He loved soccer and his one concern was making a goal), the rapport between grandfather and grandson emerges as genuinely heartwarming. Debut artist Boyd contributes impressionistic and vivid watercolors. The perspective is sometimes muddled but the characters are full of life. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-A warm, heartrending story set in Tanzania. Bernardi loves to play soccer and to hum a song that his grandfather taught him before the man lost his voice. Babu fashions toys out of bits of tin and scraps of wood that the boy collects and then sells them at market. Together they make enough to live on but not to pay the fees required to send Bernardi to school. One evening Babu surprises his grandson with a music box he has made that plays their favorite tune. A tourist in the market is intent on buying it even though Bernardi insists that it is not for sale. Finally, the amount she offers is enough to buy a coveted soccer ball and the temptation is too great to resist. He has second thoughts, however, and tearfully hands over the money to Babu, who uses it to enroll Bernardi in school. The man has also fashioned a homemade soccer ball from string and a gunnysack and begins to work on a new music box. The tale is told with economy of language but with heaps of feeling. The characters come to life and their loving relationship and lean lifestyle are described with dignity and respect. Boyd's impressionistic watercolors capture the rich colors of the countryside and the market and effectively convey the story's emotions. Babu's Song will resonate with a wide range of readers.-Luann Toth, School Library Journal Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this realistic tale of a young boy in Tanzania, Stuve-Bodeen, a former Peace Corps volunteer, explores the relationship between Bernardi, who wants nothing more than to attend school and get a real soccer ball, and his grandfather, a wonderfully creative toymaker who has lost the ability to speak. When Babu makes a special music box for the boy that actually plays a song he often sang when he could, Bernardi sells it with much regret to a tourist who offers him a large sum of money. The boy longs to buy the soccer ball with his profit, but feels so guilty that he gives the money to Babu. Wisely, Babu pays school tuition, buys a uniform, and makes a soccer ball out of plastic and string. Impressionistic watercolors depict the houses, marketplaces, and people of Tanzania. A tad idealistic, but warmly told. (Picture book. 6-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781600602757
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/2007
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 448,453
  • Age range: 6 years
  • Lexile: AD600L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.08 (w) x 8.23 (h) x 0.12 (d)

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