Is it Far to Zanzibar? Poems about Tanzania


Title: Is It Far To Zanzibar? Poems About Tanzania Author: Nikki Grimes Illustrator: Betsy Lewin
Publisher: New York; Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books

Genre: Poetry Level: Intermediate Number of pages: 26 Pub. Date: 2000


This is a collection of Poems about the culture, food, and geography of Tanzania. The poems help the reader to better understand the life of the Tanzanians, but are also comedic. The book also uses Swahili in the poems to help teach some of the words that would be used in Tanzania.


This book of poems displays two main elements of poetry, Rhythm and Rhyme. Almost all of these poems have at least one of these elements and in many of them they work together. The rhyme helps to keep the rhythm of the poem going.  These elements are used effectively throughout the book. An original view of the Tanzanian culture is shown in these poems. Furthermore, they can be used to learn and have fun at the same time.


I enjoyed this collection of poetry. I particularly liked how in many of the poems Grimes incorporated the use of Swahili into many of the poems. When she did this many times you could read the next phrase and the English would be incorporated. If not there is a dictionary in the back to look the words up. My favorite poem in this book is “I safari”. It incorporates both rhyme and rhythm and talks all about traveling. It also incorporates quite a lot of Swahili while keeping the rhyme up which I think is impressive.


Before: This book would be a good closer for a lesson of Tanzania. Or it would be a good book to use when talking about the different African countries and their different cultures.


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