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

A JUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE (article first published : 2006-12-29)

Chantal Collings’ little book, A Jumble in the Jungle is one of the most enchanting and charming book for youngsters to come my way in 2006.

The opening poetic lines say it all: “There’s been a jumble in the jungle and it’s really quite a sight. Something strange happened in the middle of the night.”

The “something strange” saw Leopard’s spots missing, Giraffe turning multi-coloured, Monkey with stripy tail; Elephant with a green trunk and Tiger turning blue. Not to mention Parrot who turned pink and purple and was covered with spots. Zebra turned into a Mary Quant curly special, Snake went hippie with hair and Mouse sprouted wings.

Along with other animals in a similar quandary, they seek advice from Owl to whom they complain that all their markings have been muddled up and what are they to do? Owl sagely replies that in response to their behaviour to each other over the years - fighting and teasing each other about their looks - so he has chosen to swap their markings around. “You see no matter if we’re stripey, spotted, dotted, thin or fat,” Owl hoots, “Inside our skins we’re all the same – what do you think of that?”

All ends happily ever after with a laughing party that lasts through the night involving the jungle community that now celebrates its differences rather than decries them.

Chantal Collings lives in Johannesburg and divides her time between writing, illustrating and art consulting. She was inspired to create A Jumble in the Jungle by her daughter’s reactions to the way children within her school dealt with day-to-day multicultural issues. This is her first published children’s book.

I look forward wholeheartedly to her next offerings.

Designer Janine Damon has done a beautiful job in displaying Chantal Collings’ humorous and brightly coloured illustrations to perfect advantage. I loved the little images that accompany the prose.

A Jumble in the Jungle is published by Struik in hardcover and is a sensible size for little hands to hold. It contains16 full-colour drawings and retails at R59.95 ISBN 1 77007 3663 – Caroline Smart




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