Posts tagged ‘Africa’

AGAINST ALL ODDS…

The Leopard Tree

Written by Tim Merriman and Lisa Brochu

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Three African children meet while living at the Nyumba wa watoto orphanage in Kenya, Africa and become fast friends. Their favorite spot is a tree they call “the leopard tree.” Daudi’s mother died of Aids when he was two; recently his grandmother has died and left him orphaned and abandoned without medication. Masozi is blind and lost a leg to a land mine due to civil war in Sudan, and Ramla from Rwanda witnessed the rape and killing of her family in her village. The trauma from that event has robbed her of her speech. Daudi reads the story of the Wizard of Oz to his friends, which inspires them to seek a wizard who can make life better for them and the children of Africa. Rosa Carson is a photojournalist who often visits Africa in an effort to create awareness of the poverty and medical needs of children in orphanages throughout Africa; she is drawn to and takes a special interest in these three children.

On one visit to the orphanage, Rosa agrees to take the three children on a day trip to Nairobi airport. When Daudi finds a passport on the floor, the adventures begin. The children stow away on a jet flying to San Francisco. From that point they travel by bus to Reno, a minivan to Kansas, and a goat trailer to Missouri. They walk along railroad tracks and stow away in a freight train until they arrive in Pennsylvania. Where are they going? Daudi has learned there is a UN conference in New York. He is determined to plead his case to the Secretary General Akama. All along this journey, the children must hide from the immigration authorities while they face all sorts of personal physical danger. To make matters worse, Daudi has been without any medication and his medical condition is deteriorating.

Rosa desperately wants to find these children to keep them safe and eventually adopt them as her family. She uses all her resources and contacts in an attempt to track them down. All the odds are against them succeeding; will these three unlikely spokespeople for Africa’s impoverished orphans succeed in the quest?

This book is a powerful presentation of the issues that face so many children everyday. Characters are deftly created with powerful personalities. Heartbreaking twists and turns in the plot abound. The authors paint portraits of the best and worst of human nature. I found it difficult to put the book down. Young adult and adult readers should not miss this book.

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ONE SIMPLE WISH

Kanuki and the Wishing Tree

Written by Meredith Kennedy

Illustrated by Ali Masoud

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Meredith Kennedy is a veterinarian who lives in Tanzania. She is certainly familiar with the animals of the Serengeti. This tale is about a young giraffe named Kanuki who despairs because she has a short neck. She has tried  in vain to make it grow. One day she journeys through the forest asking all the animals that she meets to give her advice on how to make that happen. Alas, each of them tells her not to worry, and explain how their adaptation is more useful. For instance, the monkey tells Kanuki, “Tails are much better. You can swing and climb with a long tail like mine.” Kanuki tries to explain that being a giraffe, that is not what she needs. Finally, Kanuki meets an animal who is willing to help. I won’t give the answer away, but this animal leads her directly to a solitary tree atop a steep hill. Kanuki  learns only that this is a Wishing Tree. She must choose her own path. The only requirement is to believe in herself.

At first Kanuki remains frustrated, but then the giraffe makes her decision. What does Kanuki discover? Were the other animals in the forest correct? Will Kanuki ever find happiness and learn to fit into her own community?

The illustrations in this book are done by an art student. They are quite impressive. The black and white simple pencil drawings are unique and pleasing to the eye. The small banners of all the animals dispersed throughout the pages are effective as well. Kennedy’s story makes a nice read aloud for a younger child. This book also provides a good early reader chapter book. The simple moral lessons embedded in the story are worthwhile ones for the young reader. I would suggest this book as a nice, enjoyable addition to a parent, classroom or school library. This book is also distributed by Worldreader,  an organization that distributes free e books to deserving children, supplying another good reason to purchase it!

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AFRICAN ADVENTURES

African Safari with Ted and Raymond

By: Rhonda Patton

Illustrated by Chester McDaniel

African Safaripic

For those who are not familiar with the series, Ted and Raymond are two frog friends who share many adventures. In this latest book, which I read in Kindle version, the friends are about to embark on an African safari. They create a list and pack supplies; Ted makes sure to include a safety kit! They find their way to the airport, pass security, and board the plane where a map is shown to indicate Africa’s location. The reader is introduced to African culture by pictures and explanations of African dress and musical instruments. An African frog named Adebayo, which means “born in a joyful time” is to be their guide. Their jeep passes native Umbrella Thorn trees as they make their way to camp. But the friends are surprised that they will be sleeping in tents outside! They meet other tourists and natives and are introduced to native foods like steamed green bananas and flax bread. The next day they board the jeep and see native animals like the Kingfisher, flamingos, lions and zebras. After observing dozens more animals and taking lots of pictures, Ted and Raymond are sad that their safari is coming to a close. Our two frog friends promise that there will be many more adventures with new friends.

I enjoyed the way the author introduced a wealth of information about the culture, animals, food and customs of Africa. The whole travel experience was portrayed realistically from the preparation and packing to the landing and tour itself. Ted and Raymond are drawn as very stylized characters, but the images in the latter part of the book are good representations of the actual animals. Children are given a few facts about each of them. Hopefully they will be enticed to do more research and exploring on their own. Teachers may want to use this book as a read aloud introduction to a science unit on animals or as an opportunity to study African culture. Parents can employ the book as an introduction to what will happen when the family travels by air. I believe that this book is an excellent addition to the Ted and Raymond series of adventures.

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