Swimming on the Lawn

Yasmin Hamid

Swimming on the Lawn
Fremantle Press
31 July 2017

Swimming on the Lawn

Yasmin Hamid

Told through the eyes of Farida, as well as her inquisitive sister and brothers, this is a beautiful story about growing up in Sudan. Sudanese culture and customs are brought to life, from the ubiquitous tea service and hearty breakfasts to the commemoration of Muslim holidays and the rites of birth and death. But a happy childhood spent in the capital and the rural villages of 1960s Sudan ends startlingly with a sudden military coup that changes the make-up of Farida’s family forever.

Swimming on the Lawn is a powerful reminder that many children around the world are affected by war and are helpless against it.


It’s a real eye-opener spending time with Farida and her lively family. Told from the perspective of the responsible and acutely perceptive young Farida, Swimming on the Lawn chronicles life in the Sudan of the 1960s; going to school, doing family chores, enjoying holidays and playing with siblings and friends – all the wonderful minutiae of everyday family life.

The oppressive heat, the unusual flora and fauna, the scrumptious breakfasts and the experience of birth and death are all brought to life against a wonderful backdrop of Sudanese culture and customs. The final chapters will leave many children wondering what happened to Farida’s dad. As an adult who’s a little more familiar with the history of Sudan in the 60s, I speculate that the military coup changed the happy family forever.

Farida’s experiences will be in sharp contrast to our western suburban culture today, but young readers won’t fail to recognise the celebration and importance of family life. Highly recommended for ages 9+.

Athina Clarke

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