Early chapter book. First published by L'école des Loisirs, Paris, 2003
Translated into English in 2019 by Antony Shugaar for Gecko Press.
- Also translated into German, Chinese en Taiwanese.
- This book was included in the first list of the French Ministry of Education’s recommended literature.
- Le Touquet Paris Plage Award 2003
The editor (Gecko Press, NZ):
An uplifting, warmhearted early chapter book about a crow, who proves you can move mountains (or even dromedaries) and perform truly heroic deeds if you believe in yourself.
Translated by Antony Shugaar
I woud say that it is above all about friendship. It shows that in the end friendship can be more important than fame. (the author)
‘Zanzibar’ is a friendly, inventive and really readable early chapter book. It is unpredictable, curious and so charming. Bookwagon recommends this title hugely as a ‘forever’ title that younger, newer, growing in confidence readers, will enjoy wholeheartedly.
Zanzibar by Catharina Valckx is a junior chapter book featuring a reporter called Achille LeBlab (a lizard) and a crow called Zanzibar.
Achille is keen to write an article about an exceptional character but wonders if Zanzibar is the right choice and the only exceptional thing about him is his name, especially when he FAILED the singing test (caw caw caw).
What a golden opportunity for an ordinary character to become EXTRAORDINARY!
Zanzibar could make a mean mushroom omelette but the reporter scoffed at that skill!
Maybe if he could lift a camel with one wing into the air the mean old reporter wouldn’t scoff(scoff scoff scoff). So the next day Zanzibar packs his knapsack and flies to a desert in search of a camel.
Hmmm! You will have to read the book to find out what happens to incredible Zanzibar BUT
this is a story of good friends and things both ordinary and extraordinary – oh and excellent mushroom omelettes.
A delicious read indeed.
Bobs Books Blog NZ
Wonderful story about the quest for fame. Is it worth it?
Zanzibar crow is at home doing what he is good at and what he enjoys – cooking omelets and eating them. I could live with that. Achille LeBlab a journalist with the local paper knocks on his door and asks if he can do anything exceptional.
When told he is ordinary Zanzibar sets out to do something exceptional to prove Achille wrong and to find fame. He choses to show a rare feat of strength by lifting up a camel with one wing although a skinny dromedary will do.
See how he gets on in this very entertaining and readible short novel for junior readers although older readers will get a kick out of this too. Beautifully illustrated with the characters of Zanzibar and his friends. Outstanding.
The Scotsman (the national newspaper of Scotland):
Zanzibar has been an ordinary crow all of his life, but just once he would like to do something extraordinary, particularly something that could get him featured in the newspaper. This leads to his bizarre mission to lift a dromedary. In Zanzibar (Gecko Press, £6.99), author and illustrator Catharina Valckx and translator Antony Shugaar bring to life a quirky and lovable character whose attempts to get noticed are a bit ridiculous, but an absolute delight to read about.
Zanzibar is a wonderful little crow who was happily eating his dinner until Achille LeBlab, a reporter (and lizard) knocked on his door looking for exceptional characters to feature in his newspaper, ‘Do you do anything out of the ordinary?’ he asks Zanzibar.
When Zanzibar’s mushroom omelette does not fit the bill, he is inspired to do something extraordinary by performing one single feat: Zanzibar will lift a camel above his head with just one wing!
This delightfully eccentric tale will engage young readers and have them cheering Zanzibar on. What I loved most was the surreal nature of the story mixed with the everydayness of Zanzibar’s life. I saw a review on Bruno, another very popular book by Catharina Valckx – it read, that Catharina ‘mixes the mundane with the bizarre to interesting effect ’ and this in turn describes Zanzibar. Add uplifting and heart-warming and the potion Ms Valckx uses for her writing is laid before you. It’s gorgeous.
The message of this tale, through its language and wonderful use of humour is not simply that it’s never too late to chase a dream but at its core this book celebrates the importance of friendship, old and new and the support that brings. Zanzibar achieves the extraordinary but also discovers the happiness in the everyday and in his determination to do something unusual he brings his friends together and makes a difference to those who care about him too.
Zanzibar is an entertaining, heart-warming and quirky tale - the bright yellow cover with a little crow sitting on a stool wearing a lopsided hat is just the start. The child-like illustrations continue throughout the story, using gorgeous orange and grey pencil-esque sketches to create Zanzibar and his host of animal friends. Catharina Valckx is both author and illustrator.
This gorgeous book will be read many times over I have no doubt and will entertain those early independent readers as well as the grown ups supporting them.
Ideal for 5+ as it is a great one to be read aloud too.