Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees: Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes from West Africa and the Caribbean is a musical picture book with beautiful illustrations, informational background text, and a CD of 23 traditional songs for bedtime and playtime.
Disclosure: We received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes; however, all opinions are our own.
Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees: Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes from West Africa and the Caribbean
The collection of songs, curated by Nathalie Soussana and arranged by Jean-Christophe Hoarou, reflect the history and culture of the coastal regions of West Africa and the Caribbean.
The songs are performed in 13 languages and dialects and feature homemade instruments such as
- the cavaquinho – a small Portuguese four-stringed instrument
- the balafon – a gourd-resonated xylophone
- the kalimba – an African thumb piano
- the djembe – a West African drum
- and the Peul flute (one of our personal favorites on the CD)
Each page of the book includes a lyric from each of the songs, along with a colorful and engaging illustration by Judith Gueyfier.
The lyrics for each song are transcribed in their original language and translated into English, making it fun for following along and joining in.
Brief background information about the slave trade and specific cultural details for each song provide context and help in understanding the music and lyrics.
Owanan bélé nana is a lullaby sung by all mothers of Myene ethnicity, a group living in the central African country of Gabon.
Two musical phrases are repeated as she gently taps her baby’s bottom until the child falls asleep.
Dodo, dodo (Sleep, sleep)
Owanan bélé nana (The child is sleepy)
Playtime songs include Amina, an African clapping game; Kumandja, a song for socializing at school in Guinea-Bissau; Oyiri Marie, a tale in Burkina Faso that young girls share while braiding their hair; and Kuku ē, a song for a Cameroon owl game danced in the moonlight.
Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees: Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes from West Africa and the Caribbean is a wonderful musical storybook for exploring Afro-Caribbean history and cultures, soothing your baby to sleep, and having fun with games and songs.
Listen to an excerpt, and purchase the book here.
*80-page 8″ X 8″hardcover book, with an appended music CD (45 minutes) and a download code to access MP4 files.
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