My Rows and Piles of Coins
Tololwa M. Mollel, Author, E. B. Lewis, Illustrator Clarion Books $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-395-75186-2The creators of Big Boy place this story of a resourceful and thoughtful boy in the 1960s Tanzania of Mollel's childhood. Saruni receives coins from his mother for helping her to cart goods to town each market day. His goal is to save enough money to buy a bicycle to transport these loads more efficiently and to run other errands for his parents. While his savings accumulate in his ""secret money box,"" the child determinedly practices on his father's bike, first learning to ride without falling and then to balance a load of vegetables on the bike. One day Saruni feels he has collected enough money to buy a new bike, but his hopes are dashed by the scornful laughter of the bicycle vendor. Luckily, the boy's father announces that it is just the right amount of money to purchase his bicycle (and then returns the money to his son). In an ending that makes this selfless hero an inspiration to readers, Saruni contemplates using his savings to buy a cart to pull behind his bike, to further lighten the loads his mother must carry. Lewis's engaging and lifelike paintings convincingly portray a range of images and emotions, including the verdant Tanzanian landscape and bustling marketplace, and, most affectingly, the strong bond between this boy and his loving parents. Ages 5-8. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/23/1999
Release date: 08/01/1999
PreSchool-Grade 3-A warm family story set in Tanzania in the 1960s. Saruni is a picture of determination as he learns to ride his father's big bicycle and saves his small earnings to buy one of his own in order to help his mother deliver her goods to market. After months of work, he takes his coins to the bicycle seller, who adds them up and responds with humiliating laughter. However, Saruni is rewarded when his father buys a motorbike and "sells" his old bicycle to his son. In the end, Saruni's parents refuse his payment, preferring to give him the bike as a reward for his help. At story's end, he is again saving his coins-this time to buy a cart to pull behind his bicycle and further lighten his mother's load. The first-person story contains several universal childhood experiences: the pride in persevering and gaining a new skill and in making an unselfish contribution to the family. Since the narrative focus is on the boy's own goals, the story is natural and never excessively moralistic. The fluid, light-splashed watercolor illustrations lend a sense of place and authenticity. Watching Saruni's savings mount visually is a nice touch. A short glossary gives the meaning and pronunciation of frequently used words. Deft and effective.
Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.