Summary: A rabbit, lost in the desert and saved by a baobab tree, outwits a stronger envious neighbor.

"Guess what! The baobab tree is saving the jewels for you! There they are, the pictures on every page (and the wisdom that comes with them)."    

                                                    Dr. Mary Catherine Bateson 

                                                 Author and Cultural Anthropologist 

"A lovely folktale on the importance of wisdom, truth, and keeping your word."

                                Marie-Monique Steckel, President 

                                French Institute Alliance Française, New York, NY

The Kirkus Star is one of the most 

prestigious designations in the book 

industry signifying exceptional merit.


A rabbit and a tree get the better of a greedy hyena in this beautiful retelling of a Senegalese fable. 

Johari, a rabbit, isn't sure how she'll survive lost in the desert until she discovers a lush baobab tree. Startled when the tree speaks to her, Johari quickly adjusts, showing her appreciation for the wise tree. "You deserve to be known as the Tree of Life," Johari tells it. "You provide food, shelter, shade, and so much more." Rewarding Johari for her appreciation and kind spirit, the deciduous giant reveals secret treasures. But after Johari returns home, a greedy hyena demands to know those secrets. As in similar folktales, Johari's cleverness and willingness to give up material treasures give her the ultimate reward, and the hyena's greediness is punished. Like LaTeef's previous Animal Village (2018), this picture book is based on a traditional West African story she learned in her African travels. Her flowing prose seamlessly integrates new vocabulary in English (baobab) and Wolof, the language of the story's origin. The beautiful acrylic, India ink, and collage illustrations capture the setting and the tone of the tale. The design is also inventive; in one delightful two-page spread, Johari slides down a sand dune, requiring readers to turn the book sideways. In another long illustration, a collage of gems fills the inside of the baobab.

A rich, inventive rendering of a familiar folktale.

                                                                                                                                                 --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)