Jai the Albino Cow

Jai Ng’ombe Zeruzeru

Children - Social Issues
30 Pages
Reviewed on 11/30/2018
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Jai the Albino Cow: Jai Ng’ombe Zeruzeru is a bilingual (English and Swahili) story book for children written by Gloria D. Gonsalves and illustrated by Nikki Ng’ombe. Lutalo and his brother, Tokei, were Ankole cows who lived on the hillsides with their parents and their sister, Anjait. Anjait, or Jai as they liked to call her, was a beautiful albino cow. Her nose and eyes were pink, and her white hide was bright and shiny. The other cows in their area thought that she was cursed because she was albino, but her family knew she was special. When it came time for the Ankole cows to perform their ritual dance, their parents taught all three of their children to perform it, but when Jai danced, something magical happened.

Gloria D. Gonsalves’s Jai the Albino Cow is an enchanting fable that addresses the serious problems facing albinos in some parts of the world where they are considered, like Jai, to be cursed or to be the bringers of bad luck. I loved the introduction to Swahili that this book provides and found myself going from the English to the Swahili translations to try to determine which words were which. Nikki Ng’ombe’s illustrations are lovely, especially her paintings of the Koles Hills in bloom and Jai dressed in her floral finery for the dance. Jai the Albino Cow: Jai Ng’ombe Zeruzeru is most highly recommended.

Grant Leishman

Jai the Albino Cow: Jai Ng’ombe Zeruzeru by Gloria D. Gonsalves is a short and sweet children’s story designed to pass on the morals of kindness, love, understanding and tolerance for those different to ourselves. Written in dual languages, English and Swahili, it is told through the eyes of Jai, an albino cow who is different to the other cows. When the rest of the herd witnesses the dance of the Cattle Kings, Jai is persuaded to dance also. She is reluctant to do so because she is different; she is not a male and she is shy because of her differences. With the assurances of her siblings and her parents that she is indeed special and has the “blood of the Gods” within her, Jai reluctantly agrees to participate in this special undertaking.

With a serious nod to the story of The Ugly Duckling, Jai the Albino Cow by Gloria D. Gonsalves is a lovely message for children to receive; that we should revel in and celebrate our differences rather than shun and hide them. How appropriate this message is in today’s world of division and hatred. Sweet and delightful drawings accompany the text. This is definitely a book you need to get in paperback for the full enjoyment to be had by children and/or the adults reading to them. The messages inherent in the author’s words are valuable lessons for our younger ones and the bilingual nature of the book just added to its appeal. This is an excellent book for imparting some strong morals to our youngsters.

Fiona Ingram

Jai the Albino Cow: Jai Ng’ombe Zeruzeru is a bilingual (English and Swahili) picture story book written by Gloria D. Gonsalves and illustrated by Nikki Ng’ombe. Lutalo and Tokei are two cow brothers who live in the meadows of the Kole Hills. They have a sister called Anjait, whom they call Jai. While Lutalo was a grey color and Tokei was chestnut with white spots, their sister was different. Jai had a white coat, and pink eyes because she was albino. The other cows believed she was cursed. The dance of the cattle kings was a special occasion in which particular cows were chosen to dance because of their skills. Cows from other lands were also invited. Jai’s family was very supportive of her and they decided she should dance. However, Jai hesitated, saying she was cursed. But her family encouraged her even more and helped her get ready. Jai looked beautiful. When she entered the dancing ground and began to dance, something completely magical happened!

What a beautiful story and what stunning illustrations, giving a strong sense of African myth and folklore. The rich colors and small details give an appropriate feel of the African setting and will encourage young readers to spend time discovering each panel. Jai is such a beautiful cow that readers will adore her. The author creates a sense of mystery and myth around the dance of the cattle kings and I feel this will encourage young readers to want to learn more about Africa, especially Tanzania where Swahili is spoken. Interestingly the author has created a bilingual story here with English and Swahili together on the page for young readers to try out a new language. Kids love challenges and I am sure they will enjoy learning new words.

Themes encompass family bonds, loving and encouraging each other; believing in yourself and knowing you are worth more than perhaps the outside world thinks; trusting in yourself and never giving up. Jai is an example of someone who was dismissed because of a perceived ‘defect,’ but she proved naysayers wrong. Kids will learn from Jai that being different is not a bad thing, and in fact we are all unique and different. They will also learn how to accept others who are different and show them the respect and kindness everyone deserves. A charming story that offers so much for young readers to enjoy: magic, culture, mystery, and surprises. I’d recommend this for parents, teachers, librarians and tutors to use to get kids interested in reading something unique and special. A story that will no doubt be read over and over.