Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

From Lands of the Night

Mollel, Tololwa (Author)
McCalla, Darrell (Illustrator)
Red Deer Press 2013. 32 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9780889954984 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

character, figurative language, point of view, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This tale introduces young readers to a world infused with the sprit and culture of many African and diaspora nations, as the author’s note explains. Told from the perspective of a little girl with an ailing baby brother, Samson, this fairly lengthy story relates their consultation with a traditional healer, and his prescription: “A joyful ceremony it must be . . . . Nothing less will bring the ancestors from their lands of the night.”

Detailed illustrations in vibrant watercolour effects realistically portray the humans and their otherworldly guests in simple, abstract settings. Turbans and party robes dazzle; winged, white-robed angels join in the dancing.

The language emphasizes the music (“kutum-kutum,” “patap-patap,” “gidi-godo”), traditional accoutrements (“the ancestors clench their pipes, flywhisks, and staffs”) and gifts (“tobacco, honey, tea leaves . . .”). The watercolour effects beautifully depict the luminous spirit beings as they cradle little Samson, before handing him back to his mother.

Children will appreciate the cozy family scenes at the end. The final spread shows the girl twirling under a brilliant evening sky, from which the ancestors are looking down: “To Samson’s excitement, I danced. [K]utum-kutum . . . .”

  •  Before reading, examine the Author’s Note at the back of the book. Locate the countries mentioned.
  •  Discuss and list important rituals that belong to different cultures. Compare and contrast the elements of these rituals using a graphic organizer. After reading, discuss how the ceremony in the story is similar or different.
  •  

    In a group, create the script of a news report on Samson’s survival. You may include interviews with characters from the story. Film and share your news report.

  •  

    What do you see on the front cover and in the illustrations? Where does the story take place? Who are the characters? What do you imagine the story will be about?

  •  Before reading, examine the Author’s Note at the back of the book. Locate the countries mentioned.
  •  Act out the parts of the story where there is music, chanting and dancing.
  •  

    Make a chart of the characters: the family guests and the strange guests. What are their physical traits? What do they say? What do they do? How can you connect these characters to people and spirits in your culture? Discuss these ideas in a literature circle.

  •  Rewrite the story from Mola’s point of view.
  • To construct his/her identity
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Ethics and Religious Culture