Snow Flower coverThis simple, straightforward storytelling introduces us to a day in the life of a girl in Cameroon. Snow Flower’s day turns out differently when she and a friend chance upon a baby panther they free from a trap.

  • Title: Snow Flower and the Panther
  • Author: Fleurie Leclercq
  • Illustrator: Not specified
  • Reading level: 5-7 years
  • Date published: 2018
  • Publisher: NDE Media Group
  • Country: USA
  • Country printed in: USA
  • Eco-friendly Printing: None specified
  • This book delivered to Dubai, UAE by Amazon

LOCAL COLOUR

I don’t know very much at all about West Africa beyond economic numbers and what my Nigerian friends tell me about their homeland so I was excited to learn something about Cameroon. This book largely did not disappoint. There’s a lot of local colour, including a food item and its method of cooking, as well as household utensils. What would capture the attention of a young reader who may live in a big city like Singapore or London or New York is the need for the girl, Snow Flower, and her friend Remi to walk some way to collect water from a river. To get there, they have to walk through a forest, which is where there is a real sense of danger: “Did you hear that, Snow?” … “What if it’s a big snake, or a hyena, or even a lion…”.

The simple story is amply supported by full illustrations but it does miss some visual opportunities. Chief of this, I thought, was the chance to show potentially very lively, bustling and colourful street scenes in response to the line: “In the background, they could hear the calls of local villagers selling their goods along the main road.”

SELF-CONSCIOUS

The author Leclercq’s writing is at parts too self-conscious in relating to a reader unfamiliar with Cameroon. She’s already set the story in Cameroon but also felt the need to go a bit overboard to TELL and not just SHOW. For example, “…as the sun rose in the West African sky” and “She caught a whiff of the sweet, vanilla-flavoured beignet (“ben-yay”), a type of African doughnut…” It’s already set so locally that inserting “West African” and “African” overly-signposts the story for a foreign reader. I didn’t think it was necessary; it’s like calling it “Chinese food” when you’re eating local in China.

NOT ENOUGH DISCLOSURE

The book’s back cover introduces the author as someone born in Cameroon and grew up in the Bankolo Hills of Yaounde but it fails to tell the whole story. We aren’t told if she still lives there or not. I think this detail is important especially as the back blurb says that “she wants to inspire little children of the world, especially African children, to tell their story and be proud of their origins and culture.” If she does want to inspire African children to “tell their story” I would have appreciated her own more complete story to begin with.

It’s unclear if the author is also the illustrator as there’s no illustrator credited. There also isn’t enough disclosure about the publisher, especially where it’s based, both in the book as well as online on the publisher’s website. With these questions in mind, I, the reader, feel like I’m not being told the whole story about the story behind the story, which makes me wonder if details are deliberately omitted or if it’s a matter of a lack of business and industry experience. In the end, I put the publisher down as being based in USA because the book says it’s “Made in San Bernadino” and a press release online about the book was sent out by a company based in Pasadena, California.