Ryan Barbour has melded his passion for teaching with his love of writing and cartooning – which is clearly reflected in his newly-published book, The Doodlebug Dowsers (Olympia Publishers, London). Barbour’s debut book chronicles the fantastical adventures of an eccentric family in the Eastern Highlands. After falling on hard times, the two Doodlebug-Dowser sons find they have a strange gift, taking them to Gona reZhou in search of treasure. This delightful tale takes the reader from the Penhalonga Caravan Site, through old Zimbabwean myths, the traffic of Mutare, and the grit and craziness of family life. The story emphasizes the importance of generosity and friendship, but not without a bit of revenge against the crazy landlord!

Written for the 8 to 12 year-old age group, The Doodlebug-Dowsers appeals to adults, too. As Ryan says, “We’re all children at heart.” Short and action-packed, this book is a perfect read for the “modern child.” Interacting with children, in and out of the classroom, kindled Barbour’s authorial spirit and understanding of how humour and storytelling captures our imaginations. Growing up in Penhalonga, he wanted to write a book that people could relate to – one that Zimbabwean kids could read with curiosity and excitement as they follow new characters into the familiar terrain of our own country.

The Doodlebug-Dowsers is available from The Book Lady (0772-416264, skate@zol.co.zw) and Folio Books in Sam Levy’s Village.

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