Planet Picture Book

Let’s Play, Tucheze Numbody

Let's Play, Tucheze Numbody

Learn to count from one to ten with this bilingual Swahili/English book, which also features music and movement.

This is no ordinary counting book; it’s a bilingual counting game in both English and Swahili! And it comes with a music CD. Each turn of the page introduces readers to a new number from 1-10. The number is featured on the left-hand page with the word spelled out in full in English and Swahili. On the right-hand side, author/illustrator Masayo encourages readers to look at the number and then open the page out:

‘Let’s play NUMBODY! What number do you see here?’ Yes! This is NUMBER 1! Can you make the shape of NUMBER 1 with your body? Ready, go, OPEN!’

On each fold-out, she then explains how readers can make the shape of that number with their body. She also provides a handy illustration of which way to move their various body parts to form the numbers. Just as well as a couple of them (notably number 5) are a little on the tricky side. Or at least they are for someone as inflexible as I am! Some are more straightforward, like number 1, which involves standing straight (I can do that one). My daughters (ages 4 and 7) love the originality of some of the shapes, such as number 8 where readers are invited to flare their nostrils (cleverly making an 8 shape).

The accompanying CD, again in Swahili and English, was written and composed by Masayo and she also provides the vocals and plays the whistle. The tune is catchy and the English pronunciation, for the most part, clear. (I can’t speak for the Swahili version).The CD is a fun support for the book and I can imagine it working particularly well in a preschool/early learning setting.

Let’s Play, Tucheze Numbody features bright and bold illustrations throughout. A different background colour is used for each number spread and I particularly like the beautiful frames for the text: multi-coloured fish, a precarious pile of paint pots, a stack of cupcakes. A variety of characters (or parts of characters) are hidden behind the spreads, bending their bodies into the numbers 1-10. The book cover shows a dark-skinned female character in traditional dress effortlessly making the number 1. Another fold-out reveals another dark-skinned character – just the head this time and tight afro curls (all shaped like the number 9). Masayo saves the best fold-out – number 10 – for last. I won’t describe or picture it here. But, for me it really encapsulated the core message of this book: Learning together is fun!

Let’s Play, Tucheze Numbody is colourful, original and educational – a great way for preschoolers to learn numbers in Swahili and English while having fun!

The Book

Let’s Play, Tucheze Numbody by Masayo (Mkuki na Nyota, 2011)

The Author/Illustrator

Masayo is a teacher, singer, songwriter and painter. She splits her time between her native Japan and her adopted home, Tanzania.

Let’s Play, Tucheze Numbody was chosen as a notable book in the Children’s Africana Book Awards 2012.

Add comment