Handa’s Noisy Night
Walker Books, 2019
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Handa and her friends Akeyo live in Kenya, and when Handa has a sleepover with Akeyo, the girls are allowed to spend the night in a little hut near the house. They’re excited to be on their own, but as they get ready for bed, Handa feels more and more nervous. She keeps hearing things – strange snorts, chitter chattering, a big thud. Akeyo says it’s only her noisy family, but on the opposite page the reader sees the nocturnal animals who are really making the noise – and while some of them are familiar, others are very peculiar-looking indeed!
With rich, vibrant night-time illustrations, sound effects, and plenty of curious animals, coupled with Akeyo’s explanations which are not only hilarious, but ingenious. this is a story that will resonate with children the world over as they step out of the familiar and have their first sleepover away from home with all the unfamiliar noises that will keep them awake. While the causes might not be as exotic as those that kept Handa awake, nevertheless there is never a limit to the imagination when it’s dark.
We first met Handa from the Luo tribe in south-west Kenya in Handa’s Surprise nearly 25 years ago and that book was included in the Seven Stories’ Diverse Voices list – 50 best children’s books celebrating cultural diversity in the UK since 1950. That, and its sequel Handa’s Hen have sold more than a million copies globally, with each focusing on a topic that children all over the world can relate to, and perhaps even adapt to their own circumstances. If you were sleeping in a tent or a caravan, what might be making the snorting, chattering, rattling, squeaking and slurping noises you can hear? Rich pickings for the imagination!