Amadi's Snowmanby Katia Novet Saint-lot, Dimitrea Tokunbo
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
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.
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
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)
intimate scenes. It’s a nice
reversal that young children will be able to graspwhat looks exotic and faraway to one person is a place where someone else lives.”
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Meet the Author
Katia Novet Saint-Lot was born in Paris, France, to a Spanish mother and a French father. She has since lived in the UK, the USA, Nigeria, and India, and has traveled to many places around the world. She now lives in India with her husband and two daughters. A
literary translator by trade, she tries to find as much time as possible to write the stories that her expatriate life and the experiences of her Third
Culture Kids (children who grow up in cultures different from those of their parents) inspire in her.
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’s children’s books include Sidewalk Chalk: Poems of the City,
Has Anybody Lost a Glove?, Together, and The Sound of Kwanzaa. Dimitrea lives in New York City with her two daughters.
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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?
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!