Ten-year-old Benedict is feeling happy. His family's new home in Swaziland has the most beautiful garden in the whole entire world, teeming with insects, frogs and his favourite cinnamon-coloured birds. Here, crouched in the cool shade of the lucky-bean tree, it's easy to forget the loneliness that comes from his siblings playing without him, easy to stop himself fretting about how to fix his Mama's failing cake-baking business.
Not that Benedict generally allows sad or uncomfortable things to cloud his day. Usually, he simply finds a way to put things right. Like trying to learn the language of his strange new country, to make himself feel less of an outsider. Like persuading the people at Ubuntu Funerals to provide a decent burial for the beautiful hoopoe killed by their van. Or like being a friend to Nomsa, a girl brave enough to pick up a spider but too afraid to tell anyone why her teacher is making her stay late after school.
Of course, there are many things in Africa that cannot be put right by a boy who isn't yet big. But in Benedict's wonder-filled world, even the ugliest situation has a certain magic. Warm, funny and brimming with life, Where Hoopoes Go to Heaven paints a fresh and compelling picture of life in Swaziland that will capture your imagination and restore your faith in humanity.
Gaile Parkin was born and raised in Zambia, and studied at universities in South Africa and England. She has lived in many different parts of Africa, including Swaziland, where When Hoopoes go to Heaven is set. She is currently a freelance consultant in the fields of education, gender and HIV/AIDS.