Category Archives: African Culture and Identity

Nya’s Long Walk

Written by: Linda Sue Park

Illustrated by: Brian Pinkney

For ages: 4-9 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Global Community, Africa, African Culture, Sudan, Sudanese Life, Water, Medicine, Family, Siblings, Love, Lived Experiences, POC-Centric Narratives. 

Summary: 

Nya and her sister Akeer live in Sudan and must walk a long way to get water.  One day when making the journey, Akeer falls ill and Nya must carry both her sister and the water back to their house.  When she gets back to the village, Nya’s mother realizes that Akeer is sick from drinking dirty water, and they must take her to the doctor.  Tired but strong, Nya comes along carrying all of the supplies they’ll need for the long and arduous walk to the doctor.

This book is a fictionalized tale, but it tells a familiar story for a lot of girls who live in Sudan.  Sickness from dirty water is common, but there are organizations that work to drill wells in the villages that have the longest walks to water.  When these wells are dug, it also gives back valuable time typically spent walking to be allocated to education.  This book talks about an organization started by Salva Dut, a refugee from South Sudan that now digs wells in remote villages.

What we really like about this book is that it highlights an individual from the area making a difference, not a white savior organization.  Dut’s organization is called Water for South Sudan and was started in 2003.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

lsp_72dpi_rgb_200px_2015Linda Sue Park was born in Urbana, Illinois on March 25, 1960, and grew up outside Chicago. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she has been writing poems and stories since she was four years old, and her favorite thing to do as a child was read.

This is the first thing she ever published—a haiku in a children’s magazine when she was nine years old:

In the green forest
A sparkling, bright blue pond hides.
And animals drink.

For this poem she was paid one whole dollar. She gave the check to her dad for Christmas. About a year later the company wrote to her asking her to cash the check! Linda Sue wrote back explaining that it was now framed and hung above her dad’s desk and was it okay if he kept it? The magazine said it was fine, and her dad still has that check.

During elementary school and high school, Linda Sue had several more poems published in magazines for children and young people. She went to Stanford University, competed for the gymnastics team, and graduated with a degree in English. Then she took a job as a public-relations writer for a major oil company. This was not exactly the kind of writing she wanted to do, but it did teach her to present her work professionally and that an interested writer can make any subject fascinating (well, almost any subject …).

In 1983, after two years with the oil company, Linda Sue left her job and moved to Dublin when a handsome Irishman swept her off her feet. She studied literature, moved to London, worked for an advertising agency, married that Irishman, had a baby, taught English as a second language to college students, worked as a food journalist, and had another baby. It was a busy time, and she never even thought about writing children’s books.

In 1990, she and her family moved back to the U.S. because of her husband’s job. Linda Sue continued teaching English to foreign students. It took her quite a while, but she finally realized that what she really wanted to do was to write books for children. In 1997, she started writing her first book, Seesaw Girl. It was accepted that same year and published in 1999.

Since then, Linda Sue has published many other books for young people, including A Single Shard, which was awarded the 2002 Newbery Medal.

She now lives in western New York with the same Irishman; their son lives nearby, and their daughter lives in Brooklyn. Besides reading and writing, Linda Sue likes to cook, travel, watch movies, and do the New York Times crossword puzzle. She also loves dogs, watching sports on television and playing board and video games. When she grows up, she would like to be an elephant scientist.

BrianPinkneyHeadShotAcclaimed artist Brian Pinkney is the illustrator of several highly-praised picture books including The Faithful Friend, In the Time of the Drums, and Duke Ellington . He is a graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and holds a master’s degree in illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife Andrea, with whom he often collaborates, and his two children.

Brian has won numerous awards including two Caldecott Honors, four Coretta Scott King Honors and a Coretta Scott King Award, and the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award. He has been exhibited at The Art Institute of Chicago, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, The Detroit Institute of Art, The Cleveland Museum of Art, The School of Visual Arts, and The Society of Illustrators.

He has been published by Greenwillow Books, Hyperion Books for Young Readers, Little, Brown and Company, Feiwel & Friends, Harcourt Children’s Books, Simon & Schuster, and Random House. His work has also appeared in New York Times Magazine, Women’s Day, Business Tokyo, Ebony Man, and Instructor.

Maisie’s Scrapbook

Written by: Samuel Narh

Illustrated by: Jo Loring-Fisher

For ages: 3-7 years

Language: English and some Ghanian 

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Family, Biracial Family, Love, Imagination. 

Summary: This is a really cute story about a young girl named Maisie and her parents.  Her father is African, and while the ethnicity of her mother is not specifically mentioned,  she appears to be of European descent.  The story is a celebration of the fact that while sometimes Maisie’s parents wear different clothes or call items by different names, they love and hug her the same.  Maisie’s father tells her African stories and her mother comforts her when she gets scared.

The story reads much like a collection of memories, or a scrapbook (calling back to the book’s title).  We absolutely love the illustrations, especially the grumpy looks of Maisie’s face when her parents are nagging her.  Overall, we liked this book and it’s lovely to see a culturally blended and multiracial family represented in a children’s book without that being the entire plot of the story, bashing the reader over the head.  The book is about the memories that Maisie has with her parents, and the love she feels from them.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

7791Samuel Narh was “immersed in many folktales from the African continent and beyond as a child. Narh was born and raised in Ghana. For that reason, he is a natural storyteller. Narh enjoys using words to paint beautiful stories. He brings these attributes to the craft of writing picture books for young children. Narh’s stories are alive and they are meant to touch and move people. The messages are fashioned to enrich the lives of both young children and adults.”

 

 

JoPromoStudio1Jo Loring-Fisher is an “artist, illustrator and graduate of Cambridge School of Art’s MA in Children’s Book Illustration. She lives with her husband and two youngest daughters close to Stonehenge on Wiltshire’s beautiful Salisbury Plain in England.

Jo loves the countryside, and enjoy creating images using a range of materials including collage, ink, paint and printmaking. Much of her inspiration comes from observing nature and everyday life. 

Jo loves the scope of subjects that children’s books cover, from light-hearted, to tackling the challenges we all face. She will sometimes favour difficult subject matter softened by the use of her chosen materials.  Jo enjoys illustrating the texts of others, as well as my own material.” 

 

Schomburg: The Man Who Built A Library

Written by: Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by: Eric Velasquez

For ages: 8-12 years old, or a confident reading level.

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Fiction, Historic Figures, Literacy, Trailblazers, Afro-Puerto Rican Figures, Professional Life, Schomburg Library. 

Summary: This book was sent to us by Candlewick Press, but all opinions are our own!

This book is hefty! It is crammed with information about Arturo Schomburg himself, as well as biographies of some individuals that he gathered books about.  Schomburg was fascinated with Black stories, gathering tales of “his history” to share with the world.  This is an incredibly detailed and well-researched book, it has a plethora of very specific information such as names and dates.  These would be confusing to a very young reader, it’s a lot to keep track of.  However the story can easily be vocally edited to match the listener’s comprehension level, and has fantastic vocabulary.  This is an amazing book about a scholar that changed the world by collecting stories of histories erased maliciously.  Arturo Schomburg went on to curate the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, still open and changing lives today.

About the Schomburg Center from their website:

“Each year, the Schomburg Center presents a number of exhibitions featuring art objects, photographs, documents, published works, and artifacts drawn from its own holdings, as well as resources from other institutions. These exhibitions explore issues and themes in the history and culture of people of African descent throughout the world. The programs and exhibitions are open to everyone, from schoolchildren to senior citizens, and most are available for free, increasing the library’s role as a community center. The Schomburg Center’s Traveling Exhibitions program makes exhibits on themes such as the black press, the anti-apartheid movement, black photographers, black theatre, and voluntary black migration available to institutions nationally and internationally. The Schomburg Center offers Summer Institutes for teachers, year-round teachers’ forums, and workshops on black history and culture. It also produces and disseminates curriculum guides, exhibition portfolios, and audiovisual materials on related themes.

Scholars-in-Residence Program, established in 1986, provides long-term fellowship support for research projects which draw heavily on the Center’s collections and resources.

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is part of The New York Public Library, which consists of four major research libraries and 88 branch libraries located in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Considered one of the world’s greatest libraries, The New York Public Library is the only facility of its kind, with both world-class research and circulating collections that are free and open to the general public. As it enters its second century of service, The New York Public Library continues to grow and adapt to meet the needs of its millions of users worldwide.

The Center provides access to and professional reference assistance in the use of its collections to the scholarly community and the general public through five research divisions, each managing materials in specific formats but with broad subject focus. The Center’s collections include art objects, audio and video tapes, books, manuscripts, motion picture films, newspapers, periodicals, photographs, prints, recorded music discs, and sheet music.”

Arturo Schomburg is a man that deserves to be immortalized, and this book is a fantastic way to open the doors to knowledge for young readers.  We highly recommend this book!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

carolebostonweatherford-259x300-2Carole Boston Weatherford is Baltimore-born and -raised! Carole composed her first poem in first grade and dictated the verse to her mother on the ride home from school. Her father, a high school printing teacher, printed some of her early poems on index cards. Since her literary debut with Juneteenth Jamboree in 1995, Carole’s books have received three Caldecott Honors, two NAACP Image Awards, an SCBWI Golden Kite Award, a Coretta Scott King Author Honor and many other honors.

For career achievements, Carole received the Ragan-Rubin Award from North Carolina English Teachers Association and the North Carolina Literature Award, among the state’s highest civilian honors. She holds an M.A. in publications design from University of Baltimore and an M.F.A. in creative writing from University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is a Professor of English at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

DIGITAL CAMERAIllustrator Eric Velasquez, the son of Afro-Puerto Rican parents, was born in Spanish Harlem and grew up in Harlem. His dual heritage coupled with the experience of living in dual cultures in New York City gives Eric a rich and unique cultural perspective.

As a child, his love for doodling and drawing was strongly encouraged by his mother. From his grandmother he inherited a love of music and from his father he developed a love of film. Growing up in this setting, Eric says, “Becoming an artist was a natural choice for me. I have never thought of being anything else.”

Eric attended the High School of Art and Design and earned his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1983. In 1984 he completed a year of studies with Harvey Dinnerstein at the Art Student’s League. Eric is a member of the Art Student’s League.

Upon completion of his studies with Mr. Dinnerstein, Eric began his career as a freelance illustrator. Over the next 12 years he completed numerous book jackets and interior illustrations. Such works include Beverly Naidoo’s award-winning “ Journey to Jo’Burg” and its sequel “Chain of Fire;” The complete series of “Encyclopedia Brown;” The complete series of “The Ghost Writers;” “The Apple Classic” series, published by Scholastic Books, “The Terrible Wonderful Telling at Hog Haven; and Gary Soto’s “The Skirt” and its sequel “Off and Running;” as well as the cover of the 1999 Coretta Scott King award winner “Jazmin’s Notebook” by Nikki Grimes.

In 2010 Eric was awarded an NAACP Image award for his work in “Our Children Can Soar” which he collaborated on with 12 notable illustrators of children’s literature. Eric also wrote and illustrated “Grandma’s Records” and its follow up “Grandma’s Gift” which won the 2011 Pura Belpre’ Award for illustration and was also nominated for a 2011 NAACP Image Award. Eric’s latest book “Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library” by Carole Boston Weatherford has gathered rave reviews, and has also won the 2018 Walter Award from the WNDB organization as well as the SCBWI’s The Golden Kite Award and The International Latino Award Honor.

Eric Velasquez lives and works in New York. He teaches book illustration at FIT (The Fashion Institute of Technology) in NYC.

Freedom over me; Eleven slaves, their lives and dreams brought to life

Written & Illustrated by: Ashley Bryan

For ages: 10-12 years (grades 4-6)

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Enslavement, Enslaved People, Historical Figures, Historical Events, Poetry, Historic Narratives, Narratives of Enslavement. 

Summary: This book is comprised of poems telling the stories of 11 enslaved people.  Records of these individuals were found in a historical document owned by the author himself, who developed free verse poetry and personal details of the people who were merely listed with their price on a document.

In Athelia’s poem, the last stanza reads “As slaves, we do what our owners expect and demand of us. As human beings, our real lives are our precious secret.” Bryan brings to life the harsh realities of enslaved life in a way that humanizes and reveals the multi-faceted nature of these enslaved peoples.  After a poem that corresponds with each of the people: Peggy, John, Athelia, Betty, Qush, Jane, Stephen, Mulvina, Bacus, Charlotte & Dora;  another poem tells of their dreams.  While their real jobs and dreams are unaccounted for in written historical documents, they are probably not far off from the dreams of many of the millions of enslaved peoples throughout the history of the United States.  America is a country that was founded with and built on the backs of enslaved people.

These poems are beautiful, and have even more beautiful illustrations paired with them. Bryan does a fantastic job memorializing these 11 people that history all but forgot.  We particularly love the colorful illustration of Bacus’ dreams, showing him blacksmithing and singing a song of freedom.

Reflection Questions:

  • Why do you think that personal details of these and other enslaved people weren’t recorded?
  • How can we memorialize the lives lost through enslavement, if we don’t know so many of the people who were enslaved?
  • What other questions do you have about the process of creating poetry based on just a few simple details?
  • Why do you think Ashley Bryan felt the need to not only write these stories, but also make a book about them?
  • How is this helping our current day viewpoint about the lives of enslaved peoples?

About the Author & Illustrator:

ashleyAshley Bryan doesn’t speak his stories, he sings them, fingers snapping, feet tapping, his voice articulating. His entire body is immersed in the tale. Born in 1923, Ashley was raised in the Bronx, NY. At seventeen, he entered the tuition-free Cooper Union School of Art and Engineering, having been denied entry elsewhere because of his race. Encouraged by supportive high school teachers, Ashley was told, “Apply to Cooper Union; they do not see you there.” Admission was based solely on a student’s exam portfolio. Drafted out of art school into the segregated US army at age nineteen, Ashley preserved his humanity throughout World War II by drawing, stowing supplies in his gas mask when necessary. After the war, Ashley completed his Cooper Union degree, studied philosophy and literature at Columbia University on the GI Bill, and then went to Europe on a Fulbright scholarship, seeking to understand why humans choose war. In 1950, renowned cellist, Pablo Casals, agreed to break the vow of silence he had taken after Franco came to power in his native Spain. Ashley was permitted to draw Casals and his fellow musicians during rehearsals in Prades, France, where Casals was in exile. Through the power of Casals’ music sessions, something “broke free” for Ashley: “I found the rhythm in my hand.” Ashley returned to the United States, teaching art at several schools and universities, retiring in the 1980s to Maine’s Cranberry Isles as professor emeritus of Dartmouth College.

Henry’s Freedom Box, A True Story from the Underground Railroad

Written by: Ellen Levine

Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson

For ages: 7 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Enslavement, Underground Railroad, Historical  Figures, Historical Fiction, Family, Friendship, Abolition. 

Summary: This book is heart wrenching.  Very little happens in this story that is positive besides gaining freedom, and it gives a very real look at Henry’s life while being enslaved.  There are very mature themes throughout this book, and it should be used in conjunction with classroom talks and discussions about enslavement, freedom, and racism.

Henry is a young enslaved boy when his enslaver falls very ill.  Henry is called to his enslaver’s bedroom and has the tiniest spark of hope that he will be given freedom.  Instead, he is given to his enslaver’s son.  Henry says goodbye to his family, and is sent to work in his new enslaver’s factory.  Henry was good at his job, but the factory owner was very cruel and would poke his enslaved people with a sharp stick or beat them for making mistakes.

Henry is now older than a boy, still working in the factory.  He meets Nancy, who is also enslaved, and they fall in love.  Given permission to marry, they do so and had three children.  Henry and Nancy were lucky in that despite being enslaved by two different people, they were permitted to live together as a family.  One night, Nancy confides to Henry that her enslaver just lost a lot of money and is worried that he will sell their children.  The next day, Henry tries not to be worried about what Nancy had said but cannot shake the feeling.  Henry’s friend James comes into the factory and whispers to Henry that his wife and children have just been sold to another enslaver.  At lunch, he runs downtown just in time to see his wife and children disappearing down the road.  Devastated, he can’t think of anything except how to escape enslavement.  Weeks pass, and Henry comes up with a plan with the help of his friend James and a white abolitionist named Dr. Smith.  Henry will mail himself to freedom in a shipping crate.  Dr. Smith addressed the crate to his friend in Philadelphia, and then Henry burned his hand down to the bone with oil of vitriol as an excuse to stay home from the tobacco factory.  Despite Dr. Smith begging the shipping crew to be careful with the box, it is thrown onto a steamboat and Henry must ride upside down until he is moved again.  He falls asleep and is awoken to loud knocking on the box.  He made it to Philadelphia!

Henry’s 350 mile journey took him around 27 hours, and is one of the most well-known individuals that freed themselves from enslavement using the help of the Underground Railroad.  He never found Nancy and his children, and moved to England in 1850.  Henry was a very intelligent man.  This book was published in 2007 and is a Caldecott Honor Book.  Some of the language could be updated to reflect the switch to ‘enslavement’ rather than ‘slavery’ when describing the period of enslavement.  Levine is a talented author with an interest in social justice, and this is an important story for children to know about when learning about history.  We must acknowledge that she is non-Black and writing about a BIPOC historical figure, but she writes in a way that gives Henry ownership over his own destiny and is an active-doer.  Henry is the one that gets himself to freedom, enlisting the help of an abolitionist rather than waiting for someone to save him.

Reflection Questions:

  • What do you think about Henry?
  • How do you think families felt when they were broken up, like Nancy and Henry were?
  • Why do you think people enslaved others?
  • Abolitionists were crucial in fighting against the white supremacy and enslavement during Henry’s life.  Why do you think these people decided to fight against the system?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

Ellen_levine-210Ellen Levine, whose books for young people were born of a love for teaching and her active espousal of social justice, died on May 26, 2012 of lung cancer. She was 73.

Her 2007 picture book Henry’s Freedom Box (Scholastic), illustrated by Kadir Nelson, was the true story of a slave named Henry “Box” Brown who mailed himself north to freedom in a wooden packing crate. The title received warm critical praise and was named a Caldecott Honor Book. Some of her other well-known publications include I Hate English! (Scholastic), Freedom’s Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Stories (Putnam), and Rachel Carson: A Twentieth-Century Life (Viking). Levine published several nonfiction works for adults as well.

A woman of wide-ranging interests and talents, Levine earned degrees in politics and political science, was an attorney for a public-interest law group after receiving her law degree from New York University in 1979, and was a respected documentary filmmaker, woodcarver and freelance photographer. She also was an adult literacy and ESL tutor and taught courses in writing for children and young adults in Vermont College’s MFA program.

She is survived by her spouse and partner Anne Koedt, also an author and illustrator of children’s books, her sister and brother-in-law Mada Leibman and Burt Liebman, and nieces and nephews.

SITE BIO PHOTO2Kadir Nelson (b. 1974) is an American artist who currently exhibits his artwork in galleries and museums nationwide and abroad. His paintings are in the private and public permanent collections of several notable institutions including the Muskegon Museum of Art, The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the International Olympic Committee, and the US House of Representatives. Nelson has also authored and illustrated several award-winning NYT Best-Selling picture books including, “WE ARE THE SHIP: The Story of Negro League Baseball” and “Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans.” Nelson states, “I feel that art’s highest function is that of a mirror, reflecting the innermost beauty and divinity of the human spirit; and is most effective when it calls the viewer to remember one’s highest self. I choose subject matter that has emotional and spiritual resonance and focuses on the journey of the hero as it relates to the personal and collective stories of people.“

Grandpa Cacao

Written & Illustrated by: Elizabeth Zunon

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Family, African Culture & Traditions, Love, Farming, Agriculture, Chocolate, Community, Cooking.

Summary: This story follows tangential plot-lines of a little girl making her favorite chocolate birthday cake recipe for herself, and also learning about her grandfather who is a farmer, owning a cacao farm.  The book is set up to show the parallels between the main character and her grandfather, because they have never met.  As her father guides her through the cake making process, we learn about both the steps in the cacao harvesting and drying process as well as the characteristics the two share.  They both word hard and have “boat-wide feet”, along with several other important skills like smelling rain or cold weather.

As the cake gets closer to being done, so does the cacao drying process, and the main character learns about how her grandfather and father would go to the market to sell the  dried cacao to chocolate processors.  Afterwards, the pair would surprise her grandmother at her fruit stand!

Now that the cake is finished, our birthday girl is really wondering where her mother could have gone, and when they can eat the cake.  Suddenly the door opens, it’s her mother and an older man she’s never met before.  She studies him for a moment…they both have the same ears, eyes, and smile.  It’s her grandfather, all the way from Africa!  He brings her a cacao fruit, and the book ends with their embrace.

This is a great book, very informative!  In the back is information about cacao and the cacao trade, including information about how to support businesses that do not exploit child labor.  There is also a map and the history of chocolate, as well as the cake recipe mentioned in the book.

Reflection Questions:

  • What is something you learned when reading the book?
  • Do you have any family that lives far away?
  • How would you feel if they surprised you on your birthday?
  • What do you think would be the most fun part about the chocolate-making process?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Watch a video about the chocolate-making process.  Are there other places in the world besides Africa that cacao grows?

About the Author & Illustrator:

71zhtxpjlql._us230_Elizabeth Zunon was born in Albany, NY and spent her childhood in a hot, sunny, tropical country in West Africa called the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), where people speak French (and many other languages). Elizabeth’s Mom read Elizabeth’s little brother and Elizabeth a lot of bedtime stories in English after they came home from speaking French all day at school. As a little girl, she loved to draw, paint, make up dances and play dress-up, and as Elizabeth grew up, that didn’t really change! After returning to the United States, Elizabeth attended the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and graduated in June 2006 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration.  She’s now back in Albany, where every day she might draw, paint, collage, sew, silkscreen, make jewelry, purses, and ponder the endless possibilities of chocolate! Her work is largely influenced by the people, places, and things from her childhood in the Ivory Coast as the product of two cultures.  You can also follow her blog-Lizzie Blogs!

The Banana-Leaf Ball: How Play Can Change the World

Written by: Katie Smith Milway

Illustrated by: Shane Evans

For ages: 8 years and up

Language: English & Kirundi

Topics Covered: Refugee Narratives, POC-Centric Narratives, Sportsmanship, Teamwork, Empowerment, Global Community, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Historical Figure.

Summary: Deo is a young boy when his village is attacked.  He and his family flee into the night with only what they can carry.  Deo can’t bring his favorite banana leaf ball to play soccer with, but grabs some food and supplies.  Deo is separated from his family, and travels alone for weeks until he reaches a refugee camp named Lukole.  At the camp, Deo notices that people get along when there are enough supplies for everyone but when there are shortages people bicker and steal.  One boy, Remy, is a leader of troublemakers and often picks on Deo.

One day, a man shows up at the camp with a ball.  It’s not made of banana leaves but of leather.  The man shows kids at Lukole how to play soccer, and picks Deo to be a team captain and puts Remy on the same team.  After the game, Deo’s team has won but just by a point!  Deo brings out a banana leaf ball he has made and hidden in his hut and teaches the other children his tricks and teamwork skills.  Fast forward several years, Deo has become a soccer coach and can also leave the refugee camp!  He ends up finding some of his family members and starts a farm with them, also coaching children in his village at soccer.

This book focuses on teamwork and soccer while subtly providing information about refugee camp life and the specific difficulties surrounding that experience. Deo is based on a man named Benjamin Nzobonankira, who was a child refugee turned soccer coach. In the back of the book is several pages talking about Benjamin, the Kirundi language, and tons of resources about non-profit soccer and play groups working around the world.  This book is part of the Citizen Kid collective, which is a collection of books bringing different experiences to light in a developmentally appropriate and empowering way.

Reflection Questions:

  • How do you think Deo felt when he was in Lukole all on his own?
  • What are some ways that Lukole residents built community even though they were displaced from their home villages?
  • How do you think that the folks in refugee camps today are creating their own communities?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn more about the One Hen organization.  What are they doing to empower global citizens?  How can we support groups like this, trying to bring about change to children around the world?
  • Often, we want to make a difference in people’s lives that have less than us.  This is such an important value, but it must be done in a way that is not further marginalizing, othering, or colonizing to the individuals receiving help.  Find an organization that focuses on community and self-empowerment, sustainability, and not pocketing donations.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

katie_smith_milwayKatie Smith Milway, winner of the 2009 Notable Book for a Global Society Award and the 2009 Children’s Africana Book Award for One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference, is on a quest to bring world issues to elementary and middle school children. One Hen, set in Ghana, introduces kids to microfinance and the power of social entrepreneurship, and gave rise to the nonprofit organization One Hen, Inc. (www.onehen.org), which offers downloadable resources for educators to teach financial literacy and giving back.

Her 2010 book, The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough, is set in the Honduran hillsides and introduces kids to the concept of food security and how each of us, at any age, can combat global hunger (www.thegoodgarden.org). And her latest book, Mimi’s Village: And How Basic Health Care Transformed It, set in Kenya, connects kids’ actions for global health to results in Africa.

Katie is also a partner at nonprofit and philanthropy advisor The Bridgespan Group in Boston. She serves on the board of World Vision U.S., has coordinated community development programs in Latin America and Africa for Food for the Hungry International and was a delegate to the 1992 Earth Summit. She has written several adult books on sustainable development, including The Human Farm: A Tale of Changing Lives and Changing Lands (Kumarian Press, 1994), which documented the work of sustainable agriculture pioneer Don Elias Sánchez (role model for The Good Garden’s teacher).

Prior to Bridgespan, Katie served as editorial director and founding publisher at Bain & Co. A graduate of Stanford University, the Free University of Brussels and INSEAD, Katie spent a decade working in and around more than a dozen countries in Africa and Latin America on sustainable development projects, including village banking, food security, primary health care, water resourcing and education.

700436155In the business of illustration, design and creative development, Shane W. Evans is a multi-talented artist and visionary who combines his world travels with his art to influence creative expression in others. Evans studied at Syracuse University School of Visual and Performing Arts and graduated in 1993 and began traveling the world. In addition to contract work in illustration, graphic design and web design for major companies, Evans has conceptualized and illustrated numerous children’s books. Many of the books have been featured in the media such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, NBA Inside Stuff, Reading Rainbow and Late Night with David Letterman. Shane has received much acclaim within the children’s literary field for his work on children’s books such as “Osceola,” “The Way The Door Closes,” “Shaq and the Beanstalk” and “Take It To The Hoop Magic Johnson.” His accolades range from being honored by First Lady Laura Bush at the 2002 National Book Festival, The Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and The Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Non-Fiction for Children.

Shane Evans’s talent does not stop at illustration and children’s books. His design work includes unique, one-of-a-kind hand crafted furniture pieces, clothing, CD cover art, photography and a number of other custom made items.

Evans’s work is influenced by his travels to Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and throughout the United States. Firmly believing in education and creative development for all people, Evans has produced a unique presentation designed to share his gift with all ages, cultures, ethnic groups and backgrounds. His presentations and workshops are specifically tailored to each audience and combine storytelling, art projects and slide presentations from his own work and world travel.