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On My Papa’s Shoulders

Book Synopsis

“When Papa lifts me onto his shoulders I can see the whole world.”

One little boy in South Africa has just started school. When Mama takes him, they hurry along – but there’s always time for a kiss at the school gate. When Gogo takes him they go slow and feed the hungry cat on the way. When it’s Tata’s turn they walk through the park and splash in puddles. But the best days of all are when Papa takes him to school, lifts him high on his shoulders and tells him, “I love you.”

A heart-warming celebration of family and fathers, with beautiful, atmospheric paintings portraying the everyday life of a loving extended family.

Our Review Panel says...

The back cover declares the story to be ‘a celebration of fathers everywhere’. The illustrations reinforce that: they convey a sense of modern Africa, while yet picturing scenes that happen in cities worldwide.

Similarly, the little boy who tells the story is every child; every boy or girl who enjoys the care and attention of different family members, valuing each one – Mama, Tata, Gogo and Papa – in different ways. Mama for helping to tie his shoe laces and her goodbye kiss; Gogo for allowing him to feed the wayside cats, for listening to him and for being gentle; Tata for going slowly and splashing in puddles. But it is from Papa’s shoulders that a small boy’s view of the world is transformed. From there you can see more and further. You feel tall and strong too. This is commuting in style! This is love – supportive, mutual, familial, simple.

Set in South Africa, this story will have wide appeal and may prompt conversations in Early Years and KS1 classrooms about journeys to school and daily routines. The text is concise and clear (which helps when reading aloud); the ink-and-watercolour illustrations lively and sensitive.

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On My Papa’s Shoulders

on my papas shoulders

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