Rated G: Good, even great at times, generally useful!
“Alma Fullerton, author of the award-winning novel Libertad, has created a simple and poignant story about the power of humanitarianism, gratitude, and simple acts of kindness.
In his poverty-stricken Ugandan village, one of young Kato’s daily jobs is to make the long trek to the village well to fill his two jerry cans with water. On this day, like all others, Kato passes by other groups of barefoot children along his way, as well as soldiers guarding fields of animals. When he arrives back to the village square, he notices an aid worker’s truck, and is overjoyed when he spots what is inside. He rushes to a field he passed earlier to pick the single poppy that grows there. Kato is first in line when the aid worker begins handing out her treasures to all of the village’s children—brand new pairs of shoes— and presents her in turn with all that he has to offer her, a beautiful symbol of peace.
A Good Trade is an eloquently told, beautifully illustrated, and heartfelt story. The children in the book, and Kato in particular, appear to be filled with a deep down happiness and certain light heartedness in spite of their country’s harsh situation. It is quite evident that they do not see their lives as being ones of misfortune, wheras it is simply their reality, and they are at peace with it. As a result, this story could serve as a humble reminder to children to be grateful not only for the material things they have that are normally taken for granted, but for the privilege of living in a country where they do not have to experience this type of day to day existence.
While there have been a few similar offerings in past years, such as Charlotte Blessing’s New Old Shoes, this story—with its simple message told through the eyes of a child who so joyously celebrates the good fortune bestowed upon his village—will have a definite place on library shelves.”
Thematic links: Uganda; War; Poverty; Gratitude.