Children will now have a chance to explore spaces around Cape Town while receiving a history lesson after the launch of four children’s tour books – Waterfront Walkabout, Lion’s Head Hunt, Table Mountain Trail and Company’s Garden Quest.
The books, written by Suzie Joubert, were launched at the Company’s Garden on Saturday March 25, where children were invited to take part in a quest around the Company’s Garden, and were treated to pink lemonade and cupcakes.
The four books were also on sale at the launch.
Ms Joubert said she always wanted to inspire children to do something through which they could learn and which was interactive and educational, but also fun.
The idea for the books came from guides that she saw at museums, and initially she wanted to write museum guides for children.
“However, looking around Cape Town, I thought ‘why don’t we use the museum that is Cape Town?’ It’s free and beautiful; we have the most beautiful city in the world.”
Her goal, she said, was to create something that required more exploration.
“The easiest way to do that was to create a set route. I decided to make it two to three hours each.”
She said she also made the books very specific to the routes. “For example, inside the Lion’s Head Hunt book, there is a whole spread of information about the kramat, so when children explore the route and get to the kramat, the book shows what it is, how to behave at a kramat, what it was for.
“While writing these books, I have discovered so many things about Cape Town that I didn’t even know.”
Asked about the choice of routes for the four books, Ms Joubert said: “Lion’s Head is the most climbed peak in Africa, and it’s nice to go around the mountain.
“The Waterfront is the biggest tourism attraction in South Africa; that is an obvious thing. With Table Mountain, I initially thought of doing a route around the front, but you don’t get a lot of variation, so I decided that readers have to catch a cable car. That’s an extra expense, but it would be nice for tourists.
“The Company’s Garden is so historically significant. The Slave Lodge is the second oldest colonialist building in South Africa. It’s where people lived and suffered. They built their own prison and found this garden. There’s the restaurant and a vegetable garden. It’s got this resonance of history and there is so much to see. It’s such an accessible public space.”
She said the books were for children aged five to 12 years because “it helps if they can concentrate a bit”.
“There are lots of activities, but it’s nice to have a memento. And there are stickers that you stick on pages to show you have completed the tours.”
Being a mother herself, she tested the books on her children. “My son Lihle appears in the books quite a few times. He was very, very bored and got sick of being a model.
“I think the most difficult part of this experience was photographing the children, who just didn’t want to stand still for too long,” said Ms Joubert, laughing.
Because she lived in Tamboerskloof, she said, she regularly walked in and around the city centre. “I think its so accessible. Also, I don’t think people realise how safe the Company’s Garden is. I don’t think people know what a fabulous resource they have.”
Most people who attended the book launch purchased books and were very impressed by the guides.
Emma Reid, who is a playschool teacher in Tokai, said the book had great activities for children, which would be particularly useful during the school holidays. “It is a combination of history and geography, it’s educational and fun, and being a teacher myself, I think it’s a great way to keep children busy.”
Clare Johnson, who also bought the books for her children, said the guides were innovative, fun and easy to follow. “It’s something that children can do over and over. It’s cleverly laid out and has lots of information, some things that I didn’t even know.”
Kerryn Fischer of Camps Bay said it was important for children to engage with South Africa’s history. “It’s sometimes difficult for parents because they don’t always have the facts, so it’s good that we have guides like these, that can help us help our children to engage in society.”
Ms Joubert said the fun didn’t stop with these four books. “I am planning more of them. I’m interested in Kirstenbosch Gardens, Simon’s Town, and maybe Green Point – the sky is the limit.”
The guides are available at most book shops such as Exclusive Books, the Book Lounge and Reader’s Warehouse.