Subira Subira

Tatu’s little brother, Maulidi, has become difficult. He throws rocks, he cries, he bites, he refuses to do his chores. Tatu wants her brother to be happy again, but no matter what she tries, Maulidi doesn’t change. Then an old spirit woman tells Tatu that to cure Maulidi she must pluck three whiskers from a lion. Tatu is terrified! But she wants to help her brother, and so, armed with only a song, she sets out into the moonlit night to undertake her impossible task. In this delightful retelling of a traditional folk tale, Tololwa Mollel deftly introduces an element of magic into a contemporary Tanzanian setting to reveal the taming powers of patience, love, courage and song.

Subira Subira begins

One night, a few months after Mother died, Father said to Tatu, “Starting tomorrow I’ll be going to work early and returning late every day. I want to take care of your little brother before and after school.” He turned to Maulidi, who has been difficult lately. “Don’t cause your sister any trouble.”

But the very next morning, after Father paddled away on his rusty old bicycle, trouble started.


A subtle message, which avoids didacticism through the simplicity of its language and the power of its illustrations.


[A] marriage of a poignantly written tale with sophisticated artwork…A book all libraries will want to own…

School Library

Awards & Honours

  • Nominated for the Kansas Reading Association 2001 Bill Martin
  • Jr. Award