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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Kabungo, written by Rolli and illustrated by Milan Pavlovic. Groundwood, 2016. $14.95 ages 8 and up

""The tall house on Main Street that looks abandoned is actually Miss VeDore's house. It was a real live mansion once, according to my Uncle George. That was long before the paint flaked off, the chimney rotted like, well, a pumpkin, and the lawn grew up and decided to be a forest. The round window on the third floor has been broken for years. Once, I saw dark eyes sparkling in it."

Ever wonder what it would be like to have a cavegirl for a friend? Wonder no more! Rolli's skilled storytelling offers up a set of adventurous tales for Beverly and her best friend, Kabungo. The fact that Kabungo is a cavegirl of unknown background seems of no concern to Beverly, or to the people of Star City. They accept a child who lives alone, does not attend school, and has an air of mystery as one of their own.

Each day brings new adventure. Witty and winning, the reader follows the two from one encounter to the next with giggles and a strong need to find out what might happen. Kabungo does not know how to be socially acceptable, having never learned to be mannerly or neat and tidy. She bounds through life with enthusiasm and no sense of how her actions might seem unusual to others.

Beverly, affectionately called Belly by Kabungo, is a true friend wanting to make life better and happier for the lonely girl. She is also a strong narrator. She shares her opinions and observations, allowing readers to learn who she is while also getting to know her mysterious and likeable friend. They have great affection for each other, and show it in many ways. I love the moments that allow readers a clear look at Kabungo's cavegirl tendencies. You will howl when you learn how she gets the teeth to make her necklaces!

It is a story of friendship and adventure, sure to be enjoyed when shared in a classroom setting. Once read to your class, there will be students aching to borrow it so that they might read it again on their own. The stand-alone episodes work as short stories to be shared and savored on a day-to-day basis, making it a perfect read aloud.

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