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Sunday, March 8, 2015

In A Cloud of Dust, written by Alma Fullerton and illustrated by Brian Deines. Pajama Press, 2015. $19.95 ages 5 and up

"From the doorway,
her teacher calls,
"Anna, come outside."

As the dust outside
settles, Anna sees the sign
on the truck,
and Joseph, from the
bicycle repair shop,
unloads bikes."

I am pleased to share this new story about Tanzania with you. Alma Fullerton is a thoughtful writer whose concern for children of the world is evident in the powerful books she has written. Brian Deines creates beautifully intense artwork to complement the warmth of this story from Africa about a young girl named Anna.

School proves a challenge for her. Attendance requires exceptionally long walks each day. When the school day is done and the walk completed, there is rarely time for catching up with homework. It is simply too dark to work at it. So, she uses her lunch hour to get it all done for tomorrow. In doing that, she misses the chance to choose a bike from the BICYCLE LIBRARY truck that stops to unload free bikes for the school's children.

Her heart hurts for having missed the chance; Anna is happy for her friends nonetheless. She helps them learn to control their new means of transport. When the time comes to return home following the school day, Anna scoots quickly alongside her friends as they ride. Upon reaching Mohammad's home, he has a surprise for her!

Alma Fullerton's storytelling is full of the compassion she feels as she shares this simple story to reflect how a bicycle can change a child's life. In an author's note, she describes the work of the such organizations as the Village Bicycle Project and Bikes for Humanity, and the reasons why bicycle libraries have such impact:

"About 50% of people in the southern Africa countries are what their governments consider 'stranded' (with no access to any motorized transportation) or 'survival' (with very limited access to motorized transportation). Bicycles are vital to such communities. Not only do bicycles help many of these people get to their jobs and schools, they also create jobs for people through sales, bike repairs, and libraries."

This new book is a lovely companion to A Good Trade (2012) and Community Soup (2013).

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