Siba and Saba lose things every day – sweaters, slippers, sandals, a sash, a shawl; lots of things that start with ‘s’, in fact. Thankfully, they don’t lose each other! The sisters find the things they have lost in their dreams. As the story progresses, however, so do their dreams. Siba and Saba no longer look back on events that have happened– and objects they have lost – but events and objects that lie in the future. One of these concerns their future education. A new world of choice and opportunity is opening up for them!
The story is beautifully and simply told making it accessible for even the youngest of readers. I particularly enjoyed the references to Uganda where the tale is set: the characters’ names, the Ssese islands and Sipi Falls, two words in an unfamiliar language ‘Sula bulungi’ (clearly explained in context), and wildlife such as a leaping impala. Another beautiful feature is the repeated ‘s’ sound woven into the fabric of the text; it washes over the reader like a gentle, soothing wave making this a good book to end a busy day.
The illustrations have a dreamlike quality about them that enhances the magic and wonder of the story. Siba and Saba lie sleeping atop mountains of brightly-coloured cushions, sweaters drift through a twinkly urban landscape like kites on strings, tiny yellow songbirds clutch lollipops in their beaks, Saba floats on a giant leaf at the foot of a waterfall. And there are dashes of humour sprinkled in there, too. Special mention to the little brown dog who appears in many of the spreads!
Sleep Well, Siba and Saba is a special book that both soothes the soul and predicts an exciting future of choice and opportunity. Let the story work its magic and, before you know it, you and your listeners will be asleep atop a mountain of brightly-coloured cushions dreaming of waterfalls and sunbirds . . . or perhaps, a neatly starched school uniform!
Sleep Well, Siba and Saba by Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl, illustrated by Sandra van Doorn (Lantana Publishing, 2017)
Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl was born in the United States to Ugandan parents and currently lives in South Africa. She is an expert technical writer with more than 15 years’ experience in global health, education and social protection in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sleep Well, Siba and Saba is her debut picture book.
Sandra van Doorn is a freelance illustrator who has published children’s books in the UK, Canada and Greece. She was born in France, studied at university in Canada, and now lives in Western Australia.
This is an edited version of a post originally published on Planet Picture Book in November 2018.
Laura Taylor is the founder of world children’s literature blog Planet Picture Book. She is a small business copywriter, NAATI-certified translator of French into English and member of AUSIT. When she is not writing, she is reading and chasing after her two young children. She tweets regularly @plapibo and posts at www.planetpicturebook.com