- Age Range: 9 - 11 years
- Grade Level: 4 - 6
- Paperback: 175 pages
- Publisher: Red Deer Press; 1 edition (November 18, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0889954720
- ISBN-13: 978-0889954724
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.5 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #548,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Kamakwie: Finding Peace, Love, and Injustice in Sierra Leone Paperback – November 18, 2011
"Kamakwie is a wonderful piece of literature that has the ability to touch the hearts and minds of North Americans. It is refreshing to see Ms Martin translate the lives of youth affected by war in Sierra Leone in such a powerful, yet honest and hopeful manner." - Lt Gen. Romeo Dallaire
About the Author
Kathleen Martin is an editor, writer, and executive director of the Canadian Sea Turtle Network. She is the author of six non-fiction books for children. She lives in Halifax.
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This book opened me to a world I previously had no real ability to comprehend. Kathleen's writing style took me there with her. The beautiful photos allowed me to experience her words. I came away with a deeper understanding of the incredible resolve of people, the human ability to love and forgive, and a new basis for assigning value to things, both tangible and intangible.
I started the book the moment I got it, and finished it a few hours later, but I haven't stopped thinking about what I read and how it made me feel since.
I strongly recommend you experience this journey and share it with your children. Too many of us are disconnected from world's outside of our own. Reading this will definitely put things in perspective.
"When I went to Sierra Leone...I knew I would see things that would make me sad. And I knew...that I would also find happiness growing like determined wildflowers--seemingly oblivious to the troubles all around. But there was so much I did not know. I did not know the vast darkness of war. I did not know how vicious fate could be. I did not expect at times to feel as if I were imprisoned in a dream where, no matter how I shouted or waved my arms, I could not be heard or seen."
This book is clearly Martin's attempt to be heard and seen by the world outside of Sierra Leone, as she tells the story of the people of a country that has so long been held in the vise-like grip of poverty and war. It is not told so much for herself as for the people she met and connected with there, like Abu, a young boy enamored equally of learning and soccer. Like Sallay, who sees atrocities in the war that she has to share, and then later is able to laugh with her sons, showing the triumph of the human spirit over the ugliness of needless death and destruction. Martin writes of her,
"I can see, as she speaks, that story digging into her body, clawing into her skin, twisting through her veins on its way out."
I suspect that the story of the people of Kamakwie, and, indeed, of Sierra Leone, did the same for Martin. She accepted the challenge and created an extraordinary book. Kamakwie is a double-edged sword, eloquent both in language and in the spirit captured in the stunning photographs throughout the book.
Just as telling the story of her stay in Sierra Leone--spending time in hospitals and schools, getting to know mothers and babies, grandfathers and teachers--was a challenge for Martin to write, it is also a challenge for us, the readers. There are sections of the book that are very hard to read, hard to get our minds and hearts around. This was true for me, and I have lived in a third-world country for years, experienced war and seen first hand the effects of malnutrition and lack of medical care. Kamakwie is a glimpse into a world most will never experience. The book asks all of us to open our hearts and minds and to somehow, in some way, make a difference.
by Khadijah Lacina
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
between the situations and, especially, the people she encountered there and her personal responses to them. There is no doubt about, variously, the keen grief, the fierce anger, and the sheer delight that she experienced, but she has deftly written of these unintrusively, in a way that only intensifies the reader's focus on the people whom she came to know and love.--And then there are the glorious photographs...many of them reminiscent of Edward Steichen's in THE FAMILY OF MAN. The coordination of the photographs and the text, that is, the physical format of the book, purposely and purposefully mirrors its conceptual format to a degree not often found in publications these days. Clearly the project that was the production of this book had an overarching design, meticulously thought out and meticulously executed--so much so that for its unity and cohesiveness, its integrity as a published work, I would not hesitate to elevate the book to the status of a minor work of art (and minor only because of the modesty of its aim, scope, and size).--The book is divided into relatively brief sections that allow a reader, at will and with ease, to leave off reading and then resume it without loss of train of thought. But, if other readers are anything like me, this is probably needless information. Once I picked the book up, I literally could not put it down until I had finished it.--The pathos is overwhelming, most of all in the author's consideration of the moral dilemmas in which mothers were put during the civil strife that engulfed the country, dilemmas that make the choice in SOPHIE's CHOICE seem like child's play. But so is the celebration of new life where one might least expect to find it. "Compelling" is too pale a word to describe the book. Read it and, at once, let your heart break and your spirit soar.