Posts tagged ‘blindness’

AGAINST ALL ODDS…

The Leopard Tree

Written by Tim Merriman and Lisa Brochu

TheLeopardTree,pic

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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TRUE SPIRIT OF MOTHERHOOD

The Bridge

Written by Kay Bratt

TheBridge,pic

It’s Mother’s Day here in the United States. Whether you celebrate the holiday today or on another day on the calendar, this book expresses the true nature of motherhood.

The book is a short story of approximately seventy pages that will grip you on many levels. Ms. Bratt has spent five years in China and bases her writing experiences on the time she spent there and the love she acquired for the country’s people. She quickly and deftly paints the scene in Suzhou, China, 2010, portraying the old woman named Jing who is now dependent on the generosity of her son for her own survival. Jing is grateful to be able to care for her grandson and cook the meals in exchange for food and shelter over her head. She collects old sweaters and uses scraps of wool to make scarves so that she can save enough money to prepare for her unmarried daughter Qian’s annual trip home for the New Year holidays.

The reader soon senses her generosity of spirit and kindness. Jing notices a young five year old boy sitting on the bridge near her window and watches with sadness as his mother does not return for him. Jing takes him in for the night and realizes that he is blind. She resolves to take him by foot to the orphanage, where she is a familiar character. The reader learns that she has done this many times before. Feeling particularly sad about the vulnerability and susceptibility of this disabled five year old named Fei Fei, Jing is unable to forget him. When she makes a return trip to the orphanage, she finds that he has been neglected. The director agrees to place Fei Fei in her care as a foster parent for three years. Jing doubts she will be able to succeed in taking care of him until he is old enough to be trained properly in a school for blind children, but she knows his survival is dependent upon her. When Jing’s daughter Qian arrives for the holidays, circumstances take another dramatic turn.

The reader learns how the concept of motherhood can change and transform us. Will Fei Fei face a life of misery or will the struggling old woman named Jing somehow succeed in rehabilitating this child who, like many other Chinese children, has been abandoned on the “Lucky Bridge?” I recommend this book to children age eight and up. The story is based on a character that the author met in China. All the characters are well developed; the author explores some very important societal issues as well as the culture of China. This book is a good multicultural addition to a classroom library and introduces children living in the Western hemisphere to Asian traditions.

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