Monday, January 22, 2007
For You Are a Kenyan Child
Cunnane, Kelly. 2006. FOR YOU ARE A KENYAN CHILD. Ill. by Ana Juan. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 068986194X [Suggested Grade Levels 1-4]
Speaking directly to the reader, Cunnane relates what it would be like to live a day as a Kalenjin boy. Is childhood in a foreign place so different? The boy arises by the crow of the rooster, drinks soured “sleeping milk” as a treat, and is charged with watching cows in the field for the day. He is also easily distracted from his assignment, enjoys a good story, and is remorseful when he does wrong. The insightful text leads, but doesn’t push, readers to conclude that children are very much alike worldwide.
Rendered in acrylic and crayons, Juan’s bright illustrations enhance the exotic setting of the story. Often elements of the pictures trickle across a white background to emphasize comical aspects and playful text. An author’s note about the languages of East Africa and a glossary preceding the story set the stage for the Swahili words that appear throughout. After reading this book, children may return home from school shouting, “Hodi?” Or, “Is anyone home?”
Learning common words in other languages is fun for all, so a unit on languages, or Swahili specifically, is an obvious link from this story. Likewise, this book would be a good introduction to a study of Kenya and the East African region.
Books about African languages:
Feelings, Muriel L. JAMBO MEANS HELLO: A SWAHILI ALPHABET BOOK. ISBN 0803743467
Onyefulu, Ifeoma. A IS FOR AFRICA. ISBN 0140562222
Books about children in different parts of the world:
Hollyer, Beatrice. WAKE UP WORLD!: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF CHILDREN AROUND THE WORLD. ISBN 0805062939
Kindersley, Barnabas. CHILDREN JUST LIKE ME. ISBN 0789402017
By Rebecca McKee