Zandile Ndhlovu and Katlego Keokgale
Review: Lauren O’Connor-May
Children’s environmental educational book, Zandi’s Song, had not even properly hit the shelves before the American-based Amazon Crossing Kids purchased the international English publishing rights.
Miemie du Plessis, Children’s Book publisher at Pan Macmillan, said: “To sell the international publication rights of a South African children’s book before it has even reached the shelves of bookstores is an incredible achievement for any author let alone a debut author.”
Zandi’s Song tells the story of a little girl who dreams and yearns for the ocean.
When she eventually gets there (the images hint that Zandi lives in Soweto) she meets Maya, the ocean’s spirit who gives her mermaid abilities and takes her underwater to meet the fish and whales and see first-hand the devastation that pollution is wreaking on marine life.
When Zandi returns home she invents a song to teach others about the importance of protecting the ocean.
The book was written by Zandile Ndhlovu, who the publishers credit as South Africa’s first black female freediving instructor and founder of the Black Mermaid Foundation, which works to create diverse representation in ocean spaces, sports, careers and recreation.
While my older children enjoyed the story, my 9-year-old was especially intrigued by the book; for me it was the art by Katlego Keokgale which was completely captivating.
The artwork also captured the attention of my littler children. My 2-year-old enjoyed stroking the rough texture of the sparkly mermaid’s tail on the cover while her 3-year-old sister delighted in identifying the different sea creatures in the pictures.
I applaud Ndhlovu for attracting international attention with this very South African story.
Locally the book is also available in Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu and Sesotho.