Apr 17, 08
** spoiler alert **
Phunsi is a young zebra who lives with his mother on the African veldt. His gift is speed - he can run so fast that he can't be seen. But when he accidentally runs into a cage and is trapped, he and his mother end up being shipped to a zoo in New York City.
It isn't long before Phunsi escapes, and he soon ends up lost in New York - not just in the city, but the relatively pastoral parts of New York state. His adventures are many, ranging from a carousel, to a pet shop, to a farm, to the rooftops of New York City. On the way he meets many other animals, almost all of them with a story, song, or poem to tell. How Phunsi becomes a hero and finds his way home makes for a wonderful story.
This book is perfect to be read to any child aged four or older, depending on their vocabulary. Since it was written in the 1940s, it does assume a more extensive vocabulary than some young children may have. A child who enjoys reading the Doctor Dolittle books would probably love The Adventures of Phunsi; it's roughly the same level of vocabulary and density of text.
It's charmingly illustrated in black & white by the author.
Unfortunately this book is incredibly rare. Copies can be found online for a reasonable price, but so far I have yet to meet or hear from anyone else who has ever read it. Except for my son, that is; I read it to him as soon as he was old enough, and we'll be reading it again soon. This book is simply a treasure.