Genre: Children literature
Titles: Sox Goes To School with Daara; Sports Day; Daara’s
New School; Sox Goes Away & Only Yesterday
Publisher: Nelson Publishers
Reviewer: Olutayo Irantiola
Children literature is one of the
literary pieces that take one aback. It can be a skillful dramatic return to
one’s growing with details of how life was at that time. In the same manner,
writers of children literature patiently reflect on the thing that
distinguishes their age from the current age. O’Yemi Afolabi has painstakingly
documented a lovely children story in short stories of different titles that
made up a series.
One of the stories titled “Sox
Goes to School with Daara” is a narration of the Daara Ariyibi’s taking a cat
to the school. On this fateful day, she woke up crossed with everyone for not
coming to wake her up early. Daara loved Sox, one of the kittens she named
after Fifi, the mother cat, gave birth to four kittens. Daara hurriedly picked
her bag from the study and left for school. When she got to school, she
unzipped her bag and Sox pops out. This created a scene in the school. Daara’s
friend, Naia, was implored not to mention it to her mum. It was a playful ride
for the children back to their various homes as they played with the cat. Daara
got home and implored her nanny, Aunty Sabrina, not to mention it to her Mum.
Every parent would appreciate
this story because it is a reflection of the playfulness of children that can
be expensive afterwards. Parents need not leave children to themselves most
especially when they are still in the primary school.
In the story tilted “Sports Day”
this is an online of one of the days that children look forward to in an academic
year. It is a season when children are engaged out of the classroom. This is
one of the ways of building their confidence, developing their competitive
spirit of children and bragging about their parent’s ability. It was a
gratifying moment for Daara and her mum as they both won medals. Daara won
medals in the 100 meters race and the long jump while her Mum won the Parent’s
race respectively. It was at this stage that the headmistress taunts the family
about how fast they run and so their pets.
This story ran into another
title, “Sox Goes Away” that is the point in which a parent told Daara’s mother
about the day in which Sox Goes to School with Daara. On Saturday, Daara’s mum
sends Daara to her cousins. Thereafter, she informed Aunty Sabrina of different
people would come pick all the cats. When Daara returned at 4pm, the house was
too silent for her and she discovered that the cats are no more in the house.
This implies that she is very observant.
Daara was scolded for not
greeting her mother first when she returned. I must say that this is gradually
disappearing in this present time and it is a culture that must be revived. The
doling out of the cats was to serve as a punishment to Daara for keeping a
secret from her mum.
Another story titled “Daara’s New
School” is a narration of the new school of Daara. As for me, I call it the
Lagos story. Prominent streets on the Island were mentioned. It would be easy
to visualize the environment for anyone who is used to Lagos Island. The named
streets were Raymond Njoku Street where Daara’s house reside; Maitama Street
where her school is located; Cowrie Creeks, which separates Ikoyi and Victoria
Island, Ikoyi has three zones; Obalende, Old Ikoyi and South West Ikoyi. Other
places are Falomo Shopping Complex; ShopRite in Lekki; Banana Island and
The introduction of the new
school to Daara was systematic after dinner by offering her the new school
uniform. Daara objected resuming in the new school but when she resumed at the
new school; she met children of her mum’s friend, this was a big consolation
for her and she found the school as a place of comfort.
The gradually disappearance of
Yoruba language is seen in this text, on page 4, Daara greets her mother in
Yoruba language while the mother responded in English language. This depicts
the failure of the elite in giving cultural education to their children. There
should be a change of attitude to this trend if we want Yoruba language to
Pidgin was also used in the book
as the English of the semi-educated domestic staffs.
On page 5, “E taste well, well o.
Daara self like am.” Also on page 28, “Daara na fine, fine baby”
The growth of Daara into
adolescence is mentioned in “Only Yesterday”. The story is about the vacation
of Daara to England and France. A caring mother who wants an all-round
development for her daughter wants her to start learning how to cook by being
with Aunty Sabrina in the kitchen; she wants her to start washing her wears. A
listening Mum has the opportunity of knowing all that is happening to her
daughter, as such; Daara told her “mosquitoes had bitten her down here. I don’t
know how they got into my panties,” page 30. That was the breakout of menstruation
and also the protrusion of her breast.
At this point in the writing, we
had a translation of a Yoruba proverb into English, “the pot that wants to
consume chillies should be prepared to have its bottom fired” which is “Ikoko
ti yoo jata, idi re a gbona”. However, I am not comfortable with the absence of
a father in the Daara series. A properly raised child needs the presence of a
This series is well woven and
structured. Although, there is no place in which the novellas were labelled but
they follow in a sequence. Also, these novellas have independent themes that speak
to the heart of a child. Aunty O’Yemi Afolabi has crafted an incisive series
which can be used for pedagogy in the primary school.