Chirchir Is Singingby Kelly Cunnane
Chirchir just wants to make herself useful like all her other family members. But she drops Mama's water bucket, spills Kogo's tea, and sends Baba's potatoes tumbling down the hill. Isn't there something that Chirchir does best? Set in the rolling hills of rural Kenya, this is a wise and lyrical story about belonging from Kelly Cunnane, the author of the Ezra Jack Keats Award winner For You Are a Kenyan Child, accompanied by Jude Daly's beautiful folk art-style illustrations.
"Images of security, dependability, and plenty offer a fresh picture of African life."
Chirchir, a little girl of the Kalenjin tribe in Kenya, cheerfully sings andtriesto help her busy family with chores.
Her zeal is greater than her abilities, though, as she loses her grip on the well rope, lets the fire leap up to burn the chai and causes newly dug potatoes to roll down the terraced hill. "Little one, this work is not for you," is the gently repeated admonition, as Chirchir is sent from one relative to another. Finally, spirits low, she hears a sound and runs to the brothers' sleeping hut. Baby Kip-rop is crying, and big brother Kip-koech is sleeping through it! She cradles the baby and sings soothingly. Cunnane's lilting text conveys respect for Kelenjin village life and the importance of children's contributions to agrarian work. Her thoughtful portrait of Chirchir, striving to find her familial role, resonates across cultures. South African Daly's soft acrylic pictures depict village life with a stylized, folkloric verve. Animals graze placidly as villagers work amid the sweeping backdrop of green hills and well-tended crops. At last, the family pauses. "What has made the day pass so sweetly?they wonder. / The answer comes on a breeze / that echoes through the hills and valleys / of Kenya. / Chirchir is singing."
An affecting slice of Kenyan village life presented by a skilled author and illustrator, both with African connections. (author's note, glossary) (Picture book. 3-7)
Meet the Author
KELLY CUNNANE is an author and educator who has been exploring and writing about East Africa since 1979. She received the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award for her picture book For You Are a Kenyan Child, which the New York Times described as "entrancing . . . [an] inviting introduction to a different culture." Kelly has lived and taught in Kenya and Mauritania and currently lives in Beals, Maine. Learn more at KellyCunnane.com.
JUDE DALY is the author and illustrator of Fair, Brown and Trembling: An Irish Cinderella Story and To Everything There Is a Season, which Publishers Weekly called "soothing and enormously appealing" in a starred review. She has illustrated many children's stories and folk tales from around the world, including The Dove and The Elephant's Pillow. Jude lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with her husband, author-illustrator Niki Daly.
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