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Book Review: The Rice Bag Hammock (The Aja Series) by Shaeeza Haniff

A delightful read!

Written primarily for children of any age group, culture or religion, this book is filled with rich and detailed illustrations depicting the Guyanese countryside; and the story is told in a simple lyrical or rhythmic voice, making it a light, quick and easy read. The story traces the journey and transformation of an ordinary burlap bag from once holding inside freshly harvested rice into a hammock which then becomes the centre of play and everyday family life and activities, like cousins gathering to make pointer broom or to swing whilst singing a song, a place of rest for the sick, a place for a young couple to sit and enjoy the moonlight, a good hideout for a game of hide and seek or an alone time place.

If you’re Guyanese like me, you can appreciate the many roles a hammock may have within a Guyanese family, especially if you grew up in the Guyanese countryside. For me, this book brought back fond childhood memories of experiences with our family hammock – not the rice bag kind like the one in this book, but ours was made of heavy colourful cloth and tied under our house for good shade from the sun. I could just sink myself into that hammock to daydream and forget all my childish worries or take a break from play to enjoy some coconut water on a cool breezy afternoon then rock myself to sleep. “Ahhh, those hammock days eh.”

This book also reminded me that sometimes it’s the simplest things in life,  like the hammock ‘that Aja’ made’ that can bring us and those around us great joy and happiness and that everything has a purpose, even the most seemingly insignificant of things. I would recommend this book for any age group of children and even adults will enjoy it.


Purchase online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble 

Review provided by Zainab John, Founder and Club Leader oMuslimah Voices Book Club (MVBC) – new book club for Muslim women.

About the Author

Source: IndieReads.net

“Shaeeza Haniff is a Kindergarten Teacher in New York.

First born to the former Chief Education Officer of Guyana and his wife, Shaeeza grew up in the coastal region of tropical Guyana, South America. Her childhood was filled with memories of large family gatherings, dozens of cousins, aunts, uncles and many song filled hammock swings. Aja (northern Indian word for paternal grandfather) was prominent in her life until his death in 1987. Shaeeza along with her two sisters and one brother listened to stories of his many trips abroad filled with adventures and laden with every detail. His gift for storytelling seems to have passed down to Shaeeza as she has been writing and making up stories since she was ten years old.

She followed her father’s footsteps and became a Nursery School teacher at the age of 20, graduating top of her class [and] continued to teach after her move to New York City in a private school.

[Shaeeza] gets inspiration for her books from her family, memories of her childhood and her many students. Many of her stories are based on real events and incidents or conversations…”


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