Library:ADCLP/Big boy

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Big boy / Mollel, Tololwa M. (Tololwa Marti)


Mollel uses the motif of the hero child in this story, a theme that is found in many African tales. In this picture book, Oli is tired of being little. So rather than taking a nap, he decides to go bird hunting like his brother. In doing so, he finds Tunukia-zawadi, a magical bird that grants Oli’s wish of being as “big as a mountain and strong as the wind.” At first, Oli has fun stomping from place to place while pounding his giant drum, but he soon grows tired, and wishes for his adventure to be over. His wish is granted and Oli decides that it is not so bad being little after all.Mollel incorporates East African scenes of contemporary life in Tanzania, drawing upon his personal experiences. He also includes a few words in Kiswahili, Tanzania’s national language. Lewis creates watercolour illustrations in earthy colours – mainly white, blues, browns, and greens. He uses a combination of spot illustrations, full-page illustrations, and two-page illustrations, as well as a combination of perspectives and angles. Children will empathize with Oli’s feelings of wanting to grow up, and will be comforted by the fact that there are some benefits of being little. Perhaps this book could lead into a discussion of what children like and do not like about being children.


Fiction, Fiction. Africa, Fiction. Growth, Size

Reading Levels

Ages 7 - 8 / Grades 2 - 3

Publication History

  • New York : Clarion Books, 1995. 27 p. ISBN 0395674034