Well-known writer-illustrator couple Niki and Jude Daly have etched themselves onto the South African literary landscape with their offering of beloved children’s picture books over the years.
Their books celebrate the simple wonders of childhood with themes that echo a solid value system to guide children by.
To vouch for their prolific success, the couple, who live in Kleinmond near Cape Town, boast several awards on their mantelpiece.
Niki won the Parents’ Choice Foundation Book Award for Literature and the Katrine Harries Award for illustration for his delightful Not So Fast, Songololo and has been shortlisted for the coveted Hans Christian Andersen Award, and most recently, nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Award.
Jude’s famously intricate illustrations have also garnered her praise and awards through the years, having won the Katrine Harris Award twice – for Gift of the Sunwas and The Stone.
Needless to say, your child is in very good hands when they bury their little noses in one of the Dalys’ magical picture books. And this is again the case with their latest respective books (suitable for ages four to six) to hit the shelves – Niki’s Surprise! Surprise! and Jude’s Six Blind Mice and an Elephant.
In Surprise! Surprise!, Mr Tati brings home a surprise – a sweet little piglet. Mr and Mrs Tati dote on their piggy baby and decide to bring him up as if he was a little boy.
When they take him to school, they are, however, met with resistance.
And then one night, Mr Tati wishes upon a falling star: “I wish, I wish, I wish, that when we wake up in the morning . . . we will all look the same”.
The curly twist-in-the-tail ending that follows will make your little one squeal with delight!
This quirky tale’s themes of family love, acceptance and diversity makes it perfect for sharing both at home or school and Niki’s colourful illustrations imbue the book with his trademark wit and charm. The verdict from my five-year-old? “Perfect and good!” The only fault she could find was in the “horrible” headmistress refusing the porker to attend school because “why can’t we all play together even if we look different?”.
Jude’s Six Blind Mice and an Elephant is a visual feast with its beautiful illustrations in shades of warm ochre and bright splashes of colour.
The book, which is based on a classic Indian fable, is set in the South African countryside, and offers a multi-layered allegory to delight young and old.
Six blind mice scamper out of their hole to find out what an elephant is really like – and come up with six very different ideas.
Is an elephant like a wall? A tree? A spear? A fan? A snake or a rope?
My little one loved helping the six blind mice discover the true wonder of an elephant in this interactive animal fable. The Dalys’ high regard for children is once again displayed in these two books and one hopes there will be many more to come. And like the Tatis in Surprise! Surprise!, I picture the couple listening to “their tiny blue radio playing happy music” while they’re at it!
Watch a YouTube video of the Dalys writing and illustrating at youtube.com. Search for “Niki & Jude Daly”.
The books are published by Tafelberg, with both retailing for R155 each.