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The Cool Nguni by Maryanne Bester

The Cool Nguni is a 20-page, well-written, richly illustrated story dealing with issues of identity, self-esteem and self-appreciation. The main character, the Little Nguni Calf, is a uniquely South African cow, but the issues the book raises are universal.

The little calf is unhappy because he's doesn't think he's cool enough. He compares himself to cattle from other countries and in every case, he comes off short.

The cattle he compares himself to include Longhorn Cattle from the "wild, wild west," Highland Cattle from Scotland and the Brahman Cattle from India. "Those cattle from over the sea- they're cool," he says to his mother.

Eventually, the little Nguni Calf learns that he has a number of qualities that make him special. In his own way, he is cool too, just like those cows from across the sea.

The Cool Nguni is a good, fun tool to explain to a child why being different is not a bad thing. The book also deals with the concern children the world have, and that's of being cool enough/good enough when compared to other people.

Having grown up in South African society during an era when Black children were taught that it's not okay to be themselves, I can certainly appreciate why there is an acute need for The Cool Nguni.

My daughter nine-year old daughter also enjoyed the book, and is still paging through to look at the colourful illustrations. I also hope the message that everyone has their own unique beauty helps her develop a strong self-image and self-appreciation.

Damaria Senne occasionally reviews children's books by South African authors on her blog called Storypot. Subscribe to read her reviews and adventures as a writer and parent at