Posted on May 26th, 2015 by pajamapress
A dusty road leads to a schoolhouse nestled under a canopy of giant trees. A little girl stays in to do her homework at lunch, because by the time she walks the long way home, it will be too dark to see. Thus we are welcomed gently into Anna’s world in rural Tanzania, where the big event is the arrival of a heap of bicycles on a truck, in a cloud of dust. Although Anna is too late to get her own bike, she happily helps her friends learn to ride theirs, and soon she is bumping home on the back of Mohammed’s bike. And then he does something unexpected, and the joy at the centre of this story unfolds.
In A Cloud of Dust by Alma Fullerton is a simple, quiet book that resonates with all the ways that Anna’s life is different from ours. The modest gift of a bicycle makes a profound change in her daily life, and a note at the back of the book gives information about the many bike charities that bring bicycles to Africans. But the bicycle is only the jumping-off point for what this book is really about: the spirit of community that shines through as Anna and her friends help each other.
Brian Deines’ drawings are saturated with colour and full of movement: his wobbly bicycle riders struggle to keep their balance and you can almost see the wheels spinning when one of them tumbles to the ground. This glowing book is a wonderful introduction for young readers to life in a culture where many things are different, but some things are exactly the same.