I have to say, this is perhaps one of the most charming books I've ever had the privilege of reading. Sadly it doesn't seem to have made much of a splash, and having never heard of it before, I picked it up on a whim in a remaindered bookstore. Consider this my contribution to spreading the word!
This is a travel memoir, and an autobiography, and an exploration of how it feels to move to a new country to start a new life... but with a twist. This time it's written by the children! The three middle McNeice children, Angus, Travers and Maisie, wrote the book, with occasional contributions by their big sister Emily, their stepsister Philippa, and their endearing little brother Oakley (who is the definitive little monkey!).
The family moved to Botswana when Kate, their mother, developed a passion for evolutionary science. Where better to see it in action than in the African bush? There she met a lion researcher, Pieter, fell in love, and the whole family joined his research project. Taking it in turns to write a piece on each aspect of African life, the children cover everything from roller hockey in Maun and home schooling in camp, to getting lost in the wilderness and the perils of malaria. There are moving sections on trophy hunting and the threat of HIV in Africa, but likewise there are joyful pieces about unforgettable birthday celebrations and adventures with new friends.
These children come across as eloquent, intelligent and affectionate, and is evident how much they have learned from their experiences and how sincere they are in their wish to contribute to the lion conservation efforts in Botswana. I'll definitely be recommending their book to all and sundry, and keeping my copy firmly on my shelves - and if ever I need a guide through the African bush, there's no one I'd rather be out there with than these kids!