When Hoopoes Go To Heaven

Overview

Ten-year-old Benedict is feeling happy. His family's new home in Swaziland has the most beautiful garden in the whole entire world, teeming with insects, frogs, and his favorite cinnamon-coloured birds. Here, crouched in the cool shade of the lucky-bean tree, it's easy to forget the loneliness that comes from his siblings playing without him, easy to stop himself fretting about how to fix his Mama's failing cake-baking business. Not that Benedict generally allows sad or uncomfortable things to cloud his day....
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When Hoopoes Go To Heaven

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Overview

Ten-year-old Benedict is feeling happy. His family's new home in Swaziland has the most beautiful garden in the whole entire world, teeming with insects, frogs, and his favorite cinnamon-coloured birds. Here, crouched in the cool shade of the lucky-bean tree, it's easy to forget the loneliness that comes from his siblings playing without him, easy to stop himself fretting about how to fix his Mama's failing cake-baking business. Not that Benedict generally allows sad or uncomfortable things to cloud his day. Usually, he simply finds a way to put things right. Like trying to learn the language of his strange new country, to make himself feel less of an outsider. Like persuading the people at Ubuntu Funerals to provide a decent burial for the beautiful hoopoe killed by their van. Or like being a friend to Nomsa, a girl brave enough to pick up a spider but too afraid to tell anyone why her teacher is making her stay late after school. Of course, there are many things in Africa that cannot be put right by a boy who isn't yet big. But in Benedict's wonder-filled world, even the ugliest situation has a certain magic. Warm, funny, and brimming with life, When Hoopoes Go to Heaven paints a fresh and compelling picture of life in Swaziland that will capture your imagination and restore your faith in humanity.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Orphaned by gun violence, ten-year-old Benedict, moves from Rwanda to Swaziland with grandmother Angel Tungaraza, the heroine of Parkin's first novel, Baking Cakes in Kigali. The new house, filled with bookshelves and boasting a garden rife with bugs and birds, entertains his thoughtful imagination. While Benedict's cousins play sports all day, he chats up the neighbors, and his curious nature draws him to the town's more troubled residents. There's schoolgirl Nomsa, whose teacher pays her a suspicious amount of attention; Petros, a cowherd dreaming of buried treasure to finance a marriage; and housekeeper Titi, who's being wooed by a married man. Intuiting that Angel is now at loose ends, Benedict devises a scheme to circumvent the country's restrictions on female-owned businesses. Soon Angel is teaching the local women the fine art of cake decorating and partnering with Ubuntu Funeral Homes to memorialize the dead with culinary confections. Parkin has a light touch, but don't be fooled. Under the surface lies the more complicated narrative of life under a monarch in a country where women are undervalued, unemployment and crime are rampant, and HIV devastates the young. VERDICT Parkin's novels have been compared to Alexander McCall Smith's Botswana books, exuding generosity of spirit known in southern Africa as ubuntu. Published last year in England, this optimistic, life-affirming novel should find wide readership in the States.—Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Estero, FL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780857894113
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books
  • Publication date: 5/1/2013
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,178,120
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Gaile Parkin was born and raised in Zambia, and studied at universities in South Africa and England. She has lived in many different parts of Africa, including Swaziland, where When Hoopoes go to Heaven is set. She is currently a freelance consultant in the fields of education, gender, and HIV/AIDS.
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