The new book lies on my desk, on my bedside table, on the kitchen counter – a jewel that I’ve been carrying around the house with me. I keep picking it up, drawn by the beautiful cover image, and opening it to flip through to the others inside. Occasionally, I re-read the whole story.
The story is about a young girl whose little brother is very ill. Doctors aren’t able to cure him, so the family calls on a healer. Surprisingly, the healer tells the family to hold a joyful ceremony filled with guests.
In some ways, it’s like a fairy tale. But the story is in no way typical, and certainly not ‘traditional’ in the Western sense.
“From the Lands of the Night” is written by award-winning author Tololwa M. Mollel and illustrated by artist Darrell McCalla. The artwork is astonishingly beautiful and the story is a delightful surprise.
There are angels in this book – angels who dance – and the spirits of ancestors, dressed in shimmering, colourful clothes.
God – called “Mola” – shows up but he’s in a grumpy mood. The humans are making such a racket he can’t hear himself think. “All I want is some peace, some quiet,” he complains. But before you know it, the girl takes Mola by the hand and invites him to join the ceremony for her baby brother.
All of these elements infuse the book with an air of magic, spirituality and celebration. And yet, it is also a book about a little girl, a baby boy and their family. A book about ‘home’ in a wondrous sense of the word.
Launched this month by Red Deer Press, “From the Lands of the Night” is no doubt meant to benefit from interest in Black History Month. But I’d recommend this book for any time of year, and I’d recommend it for both children and adults. It’s lovely.
From the Lands of the Night is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters Indigo and other online booksellers. The ISBN number is: 978-0-88995-498-4.