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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

FALLIBLE FABLES (article first published : 2008-08-17)

Pieter Scholtz is Emeritus Professor of Drama from the University of Natal, Durban campus, where he headed the Drama Department for more than 20 years. He has written and published 25 plays for young audiences, most of which were presented in the University Open-Air Theatre which is now named after him.

More recently, he has written two books for the young (Tales of the Tokoloshe and The Demon of the Curry Powders), published by Struik Publishers. His most recent publication was The Book of Spells published by Horus Publications earlier in 2008.

Adding to his impressive collection of writing for young people, Pieter Scholtzís recently-launched Fallible Fables is a delight for young and old. I found it just as interesting as I am sure my two young nephews will, as soon as they are old enough to understand the stories.

Each story has a moral or a twist in the tail and sees the Creator observing, encouraging and guiding his creatures Ė sometimes with long-suffering tolerance Ė as well as disciplining them when they overstep the mark. Also featured in the stories is the mischievous and manipulative Tokoloshe, the subject of Scholtzís book Tales of the Tokoloshe who adds mayhem and confusion where itís least needed!

Following each story is factual and interesting information on the bird or creature, giving its ethnic African name or the one derived from Latin or Greek. Details are given as to characteristics, habitat and diet as well as Ė in the case of The Phoenix Ė its place in history. This gives the book strong educational value and it should be incorporated in school libraries.

Lindy Pelzlís charming drawings echo the humour and irony of the stories and her cover image is a delight with the extensive plumage of the long-tail widow (isakabuli) curling around the title. Other captivating images are The Ugly Caterpillar (isibungu); the Mantis (isithwalambiza); the love-lorn Beetle who becomes a firefly; the diminutive squirrel (ingwejeje), the moonstruck Gecko (isibankwa); the determined wide-eyed Shongololo, blind twitching Mole (imfukumfuzi) and the dramatic Phoenix Bird; Iím not hot on frogs but I have to admit that the image of the unhappy amphibian on his lily pad, bemoaning the fact that he canít sing, is somewhat endearing.

Fallible Fables is a 66 page paperback published by Horus Publications and special mention here must go to Vinesh Gokool, director of internationally award-winning Atlas Printers, who suggested to Pieter Scholtz that the publication lent itself to a different look with the book being printed in a dusky purple. This enhances Lindy Pelzl images as well as her batik-styled page edging.

The book is priced at R95. ISBN 9780620399364 Ė Caroline Smart




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