Cover image for Gugu's house
Gugu's house
Stock, Catherine.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Clarion Books, 2001.
Physical Description:
31 pages : color illustrations ; 28 cm
Kukamba loves helping her grandmother decorate her mud home in a dusty Zimbabwe village, but when the annual rains partially destroy all her art work, Kukamba learns to see the goodness of the rains.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.6 0.5 49742.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J.PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area-Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Kukamba loves to visit her grandmother, Gugu. Though the village where Gugu lives is dry and dusty, her house is big and sprawling and unlike any other. The courtyard and walls are decorated with beautiful paintings and clay animals, all made by Gugu herself. Best of all, when Kukamba visits, she gets to help shape and paint some of the wonderful zebras, elephants, and birds that Gugu is always adding to the house. When the heavy rains come and her grandmother's showpieces are destroyed, Kukamba is crushed. But the Gugu helps her see that an ending can also be a beginning, and art is not the only beauty the world has to offer. Set in the grassy plains of Zimbabwe and gracefully illustrated in watercolors, GUGU'S HOUSE is a unique tribute to the spirit of creativity and the immutable cycles of nature.

Author Notes

Catherine Stock was born in Stockholm, Sweden on November 26, 1952. She received a bachelor's degree in fine art from the University of Cape Town, a post graduate certificate in education from the University of London, and a master's degree in communications science from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. After she worked as an art director for several publishing houses including Putnam, Coward McCann, Atheneum, and Clarion for four years, she decided to become a freelance illustrator and write children's books. She illustrated numerous books including Galimoto by Karen Lynne Williams, By the Dawn's Early Light by Karen Ackerman, and Doll Baby by Eve Bunting. She has also written and illustrated several books including A Very Important Day, Where Are You Going Manyoni?, Sophie's Bucket, and Island Summer.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Ages 6^-8. The author of Where Are You Going, Manyoni? (1993) draws once again on travels and acquaintances in Zimbabwe for this joyful portrait of a wise, loving grandmother. Kukamba (a Venda name meaning "Little Tortoise") loves staying with her Gugu in a thatched-roof house made vibrant not only by walls covered in abstract painted patterns but also by a splendid array of clay sculptures, including a ridable zebra in the courtyard. Clay and paint aren't Gugu's only media either, for when the village people return from the hot, dry fields, she lifts their spirits with a lighthearted story. The rains finally come, but Kukamba's relief turns to dismay when she sees the wonderful colors of Gugu's creations washed away. "Come, my little one," says Gugu, "and I will show you where all the colors have gone." They are in meadows of fresh wildflowers and in blooming baobabs busy with birds. Stock's watercolors capture not only the bright hues of landscape and traditional dress but also a clear sense of Gugu's deep serenity and the shared purpose that sends her and Kukamba striding back from their walk to restore the house to its former glory. The author closes with a glossary and an introduction to the real woman on whom Gugu is based. The warm emotions and the setting will remind children of Maya Angelou's My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me (1994). John Peters

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2-A warm, intergenerational story set in Zimbabwe. Kukamba travels from her home in the city to visit her grandmother in her village. Gugu has painted her compound with vivid colors and patterns, and has sculpted many animals including a larger-than-life zebra. She is an artist and she shares her secrets of mixing the colors for paint; there is red in the riverbed clay, white in the ash from the fire, and green in cattle dung. Kukamba discovers that she, too, has an artistic flair and the two create beautiful paintings together. Gugu's house is a gathering place for the villagers, and since the area has been experiencing a long drought, her stories add a welcome dose of humor to their somber moods. The rains finally come and the village is overjoyed. Kukamba is upset because the paintings and sculptures have all washed away, but Gugu shows her that nature has emerged with her own colors after the rain. The mood of the text is perfectly mirrored in the watercolor illustrations. The concern and despair over the drought give way to the sheer joy in the rains and the burst of color at the end. This will be a wonderful read-aloud, particularly when paired with Ifeoma Onyefulu's Grandfather's Work (Millbrook, 1998), or useful as a literature tie-in to a lesson on Africa.-Genevieve Ceraldi, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.