Swimming on the Lawn by Yasmin Hamid
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 is a Children’s & YA Book Specialist at Readings Malvern.