Friday, February 24, 2012

Two on Compassion

My Heart Will Not Sit Down. Mara Rockliff. Illustrated by Ann Tanksley. 2012. Random House. 40 pages.

Kedi hurried down the dusty path, her bare feet moving the call drum's quick, sharp beat. She did not want to be late to school. She wanted to get a good seat, close to Teacher. All the children liked to sit near Teacher, so they could look at his strange black shoes and watch the way his yellow mustache turned up when he smiled. But teacher was not smiling today. He sat on a log, holding a paper, looking sad. "Bad news from America," he said. "The Depression is getting worse."

Oh, how I loved, loved, LOVED My Heart Will Not Sit Down. This picture book which is based on a true story just had me at hello. It was simply beautiful and touching. I wouldn't necessarily say that it has to bring readers to tears. Though if you amended it to sensitive readers, it might just hold true. This one makes me emotional just talking about it--or should I say gushing about it?!

The heroine of this historical picture book is a young girl named Kedi. When her beloved teacher tells of "his village" (New York City) experiencing much hardship due to the Depression, "her heart stood up for them in sympathy" for she knows what it is like to be hungry, to be without. The book shows Kedi on her quest. She is telling practically everyone, urging them to stand up with her, to do something, to help. But at first she doesn't seem to be making an impact on her audience. How can the villagers make a difference, how can they help people who live far away "across the great salt river"? But Kedi was heard. And starting with her very own mother, people are showing they do care.

My Heart Will Not Sit Down is the story of how one African community raised $3.77 to send to New York City to help feed the poor. 

I loved everything about this one!!! I definitely recommend it!

Read My Heart Will Not Sit Down
  • If you're interested in great picture books
  • If you're interested in books based on true events
  • If you're interested in showcasing compassion and generosity
  • If you're interested in stories with great depth, stories with the power to touch the heart
14 Cows for America. Carmen Agra Deedy. In collaboration with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah. Illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. 2009. Peachtree. 32 pages.

The remote village waits for a story to be told. News travels slowly to this corner of Kenya. As Kimeli nears his village, he watches a herd of bull giraffes cross the open grassland. He smiles. He has been away a long time.

If I'd read 14 Cows for America first, perhaps, I could stop myself from making comparisons between the two books (My Heart Will Not Sit Down). They do have a few things in common. Both books illustrate compassion and generosity. Both show that you don't have to have "a lot" to give something back, to make a difference in the world. Both have African settings. Both are based on true events.

14 Cows for America is set after 9/11. It is about one community responding to the tragedy by giving something that means the most to them. To this community, it is cattle. It is the story of how they arrange to give these 14 cows to the American diplomat in Nairobi. There are passages in 14 Cows for America that are beautifully written--or crafted. "Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded, nor a people so small they cannot offer mighty comfort." But the real strength of this picture book is in the illustrations.

Personally, I love My Heart Will Not Sit Down more than 14 Cows for America. But both books are good books.

Read 14 Cows for America:
  • If you're interested in great picture books
  • If you're interested in books based on true events
  • If you're interested in showcasing compassion and generosity
  • If you're interested in stories with great depth, stories with the power to touch the heart
© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
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