30 January 2018

Kenya: Book Nook - 'The Hidden Package' By Muthoni Gichuru

book review

In Lily Ronoh's article Parents Have Role in Inculcating Reading Culture, she asserts that early exposure to books give children an edge over their age mates who did not have the enviable acquaintance to quality books.

Children who grew up reading interesting books stand out much later in life. Children exposed to quality reads allowing them to build castles in the air have a wonderful chance to develop themselves through reading.

Published by East African Publishers Ltd, The Hidden Package is such an extremely engaging, high quality transformative read under the Nation Book Development Council of Kenya (NBDCK) whose aim, among others, is to promote the love for reading among young minds.

SUSPICIOUS MAN

What happens when adventurous, curious and playful children behold a grown man hiding a package in a thicket?

In Muthoni wa Gichuru's The Hidden Package, curiosity gets the better of them, setting up a scintillating bold ride that will take the children from the bushes and thickets of their flora, through intense primary school drama and humble homes to the palms of danger where sinister men seek to force answers from frightened hapless kids even if it means hurting them mercilessly.

FOUR INQUISITIVE FRIENDS

Many things define kids in upper primary school and adventure and curiosity is on top of that list. A little spectacle can open up a huge window of audacious opportunism for spirited young ones who have no idea how to stop.

Atieno, Njaria, Wamuyu and Nyabuti commonly derided as Wasiwasi are your typical best friends with a unique bond, perhaps largely reinforced by the fact that they come from the same village.

HEATED CONTEST

They love playing all manner of childhood games and tussles and have no qualms engaging in a heated contest to prove who is better than the other.

Such is what happens one evening as they leave school for home. Apparently, Wasiwasi the nervous one cannot believe Wamuyu, perhaps because she is a girl, can beat him in a game of marbles or bano. Sure punishment of pinched ears and hot painful cheeks for late arrival from school is forgotten as the four friends hide in a favourite part of the bush to settle their innocent score.

CLOSELY OBSERVED STRANGER

As they prepare to see who between Wasiwasi and his chief derider, Wamuyu, is the undisputed wizard of the game of marbles, a nervous stranger attracts their attention.

He has a package with him and walks close to them suspiciously. They hide behind a thicket, observing him thoroughly, convinced there is something amiss about him. Soon he enters a thicket and leaves without the package. The curious minds of the four young friends have been set up for adventure and utter curiosity that will take them to the jaws of evil men out to destroy wildlife for a quick coin.

ENJOYABLE FETE

Muthoni wa Gichuru's story is written in the first person, an enjoyable account for any young reader who will identify easily with the four young friends as they embark unintentionally in a rewarding, dangerous adventure of their lifetime.

The Hidden Package has been able to rope in suspense, adventure and fast-moving languid storytelling that picks from the first chapter to the last.

It fuses the conservation story, desire to protect the fauna and fostering interest in such careers as police work, wildlife protection and conservation science in young minds at a time when children are grappling with the simplicity of what they would like to be when they grow up.

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