For You Are a Kenyan Child

for-you-are-a-kenyan-childFor you are a Kenyan Child by Kelly Cunnane is an award winning children’s book with some broad important themes. One of those themes being responsibility.

The child in this story is told to take his grandfather’s cows to the hill to graze and he is to stay there and watch over them. Like many young children he gets distracted by  the man in the tea shop, or the black monkeys, or grandmother putting dishes out to dry. He goes exploring through the village and occasionally remembers that he is supposed to be watching the cows.

The book focuses on how this village is in Africa. There is a phrase in the book that is repeated that feels like an excuse almost. “for you are a Kenyan child.” I know it is the title but the way it is used in the text makes it feel like ‘well you can’t help it, this is just part of who you are.’ I think this would be a bad message to send to kids but I do think that the descriptive language that is used really paints the picture beyond the artwork in the book. I think this book could be used to teach responsibility, as well as how other places are different to the United States. This could include how they dress in the pictures or even the jobs that they do, including having to start at a young age.

Here is a digital story that was created based on the book that you could use with your class. It gives more background to living in Africa and putting yourself in the character’s shoes.

Fortunately, The Milk

51uqnte6qxl-_sy344_bo1204203200_       Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman is a fun book to read. This book was a fun read because the words are written in different fonts to help distinguish between the characters as well as emphasis onomatopoeia. I chose to read this book more for the illustrator Scottie Young because I read the OZ comics that he wrote and illustrated and fell in love with his art style. This book was definitely the same in that aspect, the creative way that he draws characters gives them a true personality.

This is a story of a father who leaves to get milk for his kids to eat their breakfast cereal and ends up on an adventure. The father walks down to the corner store and gets the milk but is then sucked up by what appears to be a flying saucer. He meets some green snot-like aliens, some pirates, and a stegosaurus named Professor Steg. This stegosaurus is who he spends the majority of the book with travelling forwards and backwards through time. Professor Steg is an inventor who time-travels in his hot air balloon that he calls “Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier.” He does return home to tell his children about his adventure and give them the milk.

Within this story I feel that all the creatures and characters were portrayed as equals and were not categorized or stereotyped in any way. I think that because this dinosaur is an inventor makes you laugh and gives the reader some perspective. Throughout most of the book the father thinks that the dinosaur is male but it does not say until the end when the “space dinosaurs” recognize her as a book author that the father is embarrassed that he thought she was a male stegosaurus. this part bridged that gender stereotype for me because it allows for females to be writers and inventors but it also shows the reader that we often associate those professions to be male dominated.

In the classroom I would use this book to talk about figurative language, specifically onomatopoeia and the way that the author signifies it in the book. (This would be impacted if you got the UK version.)

Tftm06-349x500here are two versions of the book that
have different illustrators and I think this impacts how well the story is told. Here is the same page in both versions…Which do you think is more engaging to students?