Thursday, February 27, 2014

Learning from Picture Books: A Good Trade

This week I'm taking a closer look at one of the nominees for the Blue Spruce Award from the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading for 2014. Other nominees I've featured so far include Oddrey by Dave Whammond (OwlKids Books) and I Dare You Not to Yawn by Helene Boudreau (Candlewick Press).


A Good Trade

written by Alma Fullerton


illustrated by Karen Patkau

published by Pajama Press, 2012

From Amazon:

In a small Ugandan village, Kato wakes early to start the long barefoot trek beyond his village and along fields dotted with cattle and guarded by soldiers. As it is every day, his destination is the village well, where he will pump a day's supply of water into two jerry cans before trudging home again. But this is no ordinary day. The aid worker's truck arrives at the village square, and in the back is a gift so special, the little boy rushes home to look for something to repay the aid worker.

Alma Fullerton's spare, lilting prose tells a deceptively simple story of one day in a little boy's life. But in a place ravaged by a generation of civil war and drought, a village well brings life, a gift of shoes is a cause for celebration, and a simple flower becomes an eloquent symbol of peace and gratitude.

My Thoughts as a Writer:

This book is a good example of how spare language and imagery can highlight social issues in a way that young children can understand. I’d read this book again to study how the author uses words to create compelling images. The illustrations evoke a strong sense of atmosphere, as well as providing more to think about in showing details of Kato’s life in Africa.

My Thoughts as a Teacher:

I loved the illustrations and simple text that allows important issues and ideas to be introduced to young children. There is a lot to talk about here, comparing the realities of Kato’s life in Africa to life in a reader’s city or country.

I wished this story had some additional background information at the back of the book that I could use as a teacher to help explain life in Africa. However, this book would be a good starting point for researching the topic as a whole class or in small groups. The story provokes many questions to answer.


20 comments:

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful review. My husband and I hope to eventually go to Africa so this is interesting to me in many ways. I was also interested in your views as a writer. Must look for this in my library. Thanks Andrea.

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    1. You're welcome! I love books that provoke thought on many different levels.

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  2. This looks like a great read. You've got me intrigued about finding resource materials to go with it. I can't wait to read it now. Love the art on the cover, too!

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    1. I think kids will really connect with the illustrations.

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  3. Your review intrigues me, especially to know what the 'gift' is. And also whenever a pb is able to use words sparingly and convey a powerful story I feel it is an important one to read. I will look for this one.

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  4. I hadn't seen this book until Kirsten Larson featured it for PPBF a few weeks back, then I fell in love with the author and reviewed her Community Soup! Her work deserves the exposure. :)

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    1. Wonderful! I'll have to check that one out!

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  5. My kind of book. I haven't read this one yet. It would be great to pair with other multicultural books about Africa. It is a great book for a class to read. Will have to check out the author.

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    1. There are so many good points of discussion for a class.

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  6. looks like a thought-provoking story... one that might get kids thinking outside their own little world. Thanks for sharing it.

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  7. This sounds really good. Thanks for telling me about it.

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  8. I read this when Kirsten reviewed it and like you was wowed with the imagery and simplicity.

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    1. It's stunning. I really love it when seemingly simple books can be so powerful.

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  9. Picture books highlighting social issues like these are new to me. Thanks for reviewing this - it's a great way to open a child's mind to bigger issues in the world.
    Thanks also for coming by my PPBF review :)

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  10. I'm new to picture books highlighting social issues of this nature. Thanks for reviewing this. It's a great way to expose kids to bigger issues in the world
    Thanks for popping by my PPBF post too!

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  11. I loved this book! It's such a powerful tale and introduces kids to how people live in so many countries in this world. It's certainly far different than what we are used to.

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    1. I think it's important for kids to read books that expand their understandings.

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  12. I haven't read this yet. I'm curious to see how it compares to Linda Sue Park's novel A Long Walk to Water.

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