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Amadi's Snowman

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Why does Amadi's mother insist he learn to read words when he is going to be a great businessman? Why should an Igbo man of Nigeria waste precious time on books, anyway? When Amadi disobeys his mother and runs off to the market instead of sticking around for a reading lesson, he encounters a much-admired older boy secretly reading at a book stall. Crowding himself in among the stacks of books, Amadi becomes intrigued by a storybook with pictures of a strange white creature with a carrot for a nose. Over the ...

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Why does Amadi's mother insist he learn to read words when he is going to be a great businessman? Why should an Igbo man of Nigeria waste precious time on books, anyway? When Amadi disobeys his mother and runs off to the market instead of sticking around for a reading lesson, he encounters a much-admired older boy secretly reading at a book stall. Crowding himself in among the stacks of books, Amadi becomes intrigued by a storybook with pictures of a strange white creature with a carrot for a nose. Over the course of a typical mischievous day, unable to shake his questions about the snowman, Amadi discovers the vast world reading could open up—especially for an Igbo man of Nigeria.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Mary Hynes-Berry
This is a book that illustrates one of the fundamental powers of literacy—if we can read, we have access to worlds that otherwise we could not even imagine. Young Amadi in Nigeria wants to be a successful businessman and has little interest in schooling or literacy, but when a companion shares a book about a snowman, Amadi is hooked into finding out more—which means that maybe learning how to read is a good idea. Like other books that come out of Tilbury House, this book sees issues of diversity in ways that allow children to make connections, no matter what their home culture is. Amadi's story offers much to explore in classrooms where snowmen are commonplace as well as in those where the idea of snow is totally exotic. Tokunbo's earth colored tones in the full page illustrations do a wonderful job of literally framing each movement of this account of how a young boy goes from thinking that learning to read and write has nothing to do with success to realizing that literacy is essential if we not only want to make money but to grow and discover. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry
School Library Journal

Gr 1-4

Set in Nigeria, this contemporary story introduces an Igbo boy who doesn't see the value of literacy. When Amadi's mother tells him that Mrs. Chikodili is on her way to help him with his reading, he stubbornly declares, "I'll be a trader. I don't need to read to do business." He takes off for the market where he wanders by a bookstall and sees Chima, an older boy he respects, looking at a book. Amadi is mesmerized by an image on the pages, and Chima tells him about snow. Unable to get the idea out of his mind, Amadi returns later to look at the volume again, and is devastated when he sees Mrs. Chikodili buying it. Now that Amadi has a reason to read-to find out about the world beyond his town-he is motivated to learn. When he returns home, there is a surprise from Mrs. Chikodili waiting for him. Amadi's experiences are genuine and come across naturally in the narrative. The vibrant illustrations depict the setting and bring richness and depth to the story. An important addition to any library, this offering fills a necessary niche for current-day stories from other cultures and focuses attention on reading as an important and satisfying accomplishment.-Susannah Richards, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic

Kirkus Reviews

Snowmen are not often found in small towns in Nigeria, but Amadi discovers one in, of all places, a book! The elementary-grade boy can do his sums but hates his weekly reading lesson. He wants only to be a trader, an honorable job for an "Igbo man of Nigeria" as he thinks of himself, but his small-businesswoman mother knows that the world is changing and everyone needs an education. Hoping to escape his tutor in the marketplace, he spots Chima, an older boy, actually enjoying a book with a picture that Amadi can't identify. What could be so white and round and have a carrot for a nose? Know-it-all Amadi starts to change his attitude when he realizes that there are things outside of his village life that he wants to learn about. Tokunbo's palette contrasts the bright colors of people's clothing, both contemporary and traditional, with the light-brown muddiness of the village roads and houses in her vigorous paintings. Purposeful, yet without the heavy didacticism of some books on the topic of literacy, this tale shines a welcome light on cultural differences. (Picture book. 5-8)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780884482987
  • Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/2008
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD510L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Author Katia Novet Saint-Lot grew up in Paris but spent her summers visiting her mother's family in Spain. She also lived in the U.K and the U.S. Her husband's work for UNICEF took them to Nigeria and provided the background for Amadi's story. They now live in India with their two daughters. As a child, Katia loved reading more than anything else. She also dreamed of becoming a writer and longed for travels to faraway places—she's now busy living her dreams with her family.

Illustrator Dimitrea Tokunbo brings to life the day-to-day experiences of life in Nigeria, where her father grew up. "I want to represent the beauty of all children. I feel that growing up biracial, having a direct connection to two different cultures in the American context, gives my art a spirit and spark that speaks to the children who were overlooked when I was a child." Dimitrea illustrated two children's books for Boyds Mills Press, Sidewalk Chalk: Poems of the City by Carole Boston Weatherford, and Has Anybody Lost a Glove? by G. Francis Johnson. Dimitrea has written one children's book for Cartwheel Books (a Scholastic imprint), Together, illustrated by Jennifer Gwynne Oliver, and has a new book coming out next year with Scholastic, The Sound of Kwanzaa, illustrated by Lisa Cohen. Dimitrea enjoys visiting schools and libraries to share her stories with children. She lives in New York City with her two daughters.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 31, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    wonderful story about reading

    Amadi is a young Igbo man of Nigeria. His mother wants him to learn to read so that he can have a good job someday, and she has make arrangements for Mrs. Chikodili to teach him without charge. However, Amadi wants to be a trader and feels that he does not have to know how to read. So instead of waiting for Mrs. Chikodili, he escapes to the market. While there, he sees an older friend, Chima, who is reading a book at a stall. The book has pictures of a strange white creature with a nose that looks like a carrot, and Amadi is intrigued. Of course, if Amadi could read, he could learn all about snow. So, is it barely possible that reading could open up a new world for a young Igbo man of Nigeria?<BR/> This is a truly wonderful story because it not only emphasizes the importance of knowing how to read but also reminds children in this country how fortunate they are in having the opportunity of learning how to read and in having a seemingly unlimited supply of books at their disposal. It has the added benefit of helping children gain a better understanding of life for young people in Nigeria. Author Katia Novet Saint-Lot has lived in Nigeria when her husband's work for UNICEF took them there, and the father of Dimitrea Tokunbo, whose captivating illustrations add so much to the book, grew up in Nigeria. Teachers and parents can visit the Tilbury House website for a special take home section to use with the book that features activities, discussion points, and further resources. I give this book two thumbs up!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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