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14 Cows for America Hardcover – August 1, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 2–5—Kimeli Naiyomah returned home to his Maasai village from New York City with news of 9/11 terrorist attacks. His story prompted the villagers to give a heartfelt gift to help America heal. Deedy and Gonzalez bring Naiyomah's story to life with pithy prose and vibrant illustrations. Each block of text consists of a few short, elegant sentences: "A child asks if he has brought any stories. Kimeli nods. He has brought with him one story. It has burned a hole in his heart." The suspenseful pace is especially striking when surrounded by Gonzalez's exquisite colored pencil and pastel illustrations. The colors of Kenya explode off the page: rich blues, flaming oranges, fire-engine reds, and chocolate browns. Full-page spreads depict the Maasai people and their land so realistically as to be nearly lifelike. Gonzalez manages to break the fourth wall and draw readers in as real-time observers. The book's only flaw is the less-than-concrete ending: "…there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded, nor a people so small they cannot offer mighty comfort" is an important message, but not a particularly satisfying one for children. Fortunately, their questions will be answered by Naiyomah's endnote, and it provides a fitting conclusion to this breathtaking chronicle.—Rebecca Dash, New York Public Library
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"...a lovely picture book...beautifully evocative..." ?The New York Times
"...moving and dramatically illustrated..." ?The Wall Street Journal
"Rarely do books for children address the bridging of cultural difference on a grand scale." ?Newsday
"An extraordinary true story of generosity, compassion and hope, 14 Cows for America is rich on multiple levels for young and old alike." ?Books to Borrow, Books to Buy
"I dare you to read this special picture book without getting teary every time." ?Library Media Connection, * STARRED REVIEW *
"A moving tale of compassion and generosity." ?Publishers Weekly
"...elegant sentences...The suspenseful pace is especially striking when surrounded by Gonzalez's exquisite colored pencil and pastel illustrations. The colors of Kenya explode off the page..." ?School Library Journal, * STARRED REVIEW *
"...gentle yet piercing present-tense prose...A stirring, heartwarming tale that made headlines when it happened-and is now, thankfully, preserved on the page for children." ?Kirkus Reviews
"...the words and the glowing mixed-media illustrations show empathy and connections across communities..." ?Booklist
"...an unforgettable book." ?Young Adult (& Kids) Book Central
"...it could generate some excellent discussion in classrooms and families." ?The Huffington Post
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Top customer reviews
This is the best book I've found yet for gently introducing 9/11 to elementary and preschool-aged children. Without the awful specifics (which can wait until the kids are old enough to truly understand), it details the story from the viewpoint of one who was there, and then adds the glorious story of how the Maasai people responded in kindness and generosity.
We bought one for ourselves and one for our local elementary school, which the principal read to the students during morning announcements.
It's a beautiful, extremely moving true story of the goodness in humanity. Gorgeous illustrations (especially the reflection of the Towers on fire reflected in a child's eye) complete the picture.
There's an old Masai saying, "And how are the children?" We might add, "And how are the cows?"