Total Pageviews

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hope Springs, written by Eric Walters and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes. Tundra Books, Random House. 2014. $19.99 ages 5 and up

"Boniface put on a burst of speed, leaving the others behind in his dust! Then he heard little Mueni crying. Suddenly the race didn't seem important. As the biggest, he had to care for the littlest. Boniface stopped and waited. Mueni wasn't hurt, just afraid of being left behind ... and alone. She'd spent so much time alone and afraid."

Eric Walters has now written two picture books based on his experiences with the children from the Mbooni District in Kenya. It is a very dry area, and the people there count on two rainy seasons to provide the water they need to live. When there is no water, everyone is at risk.

This book is based on a true story of a time when the much anticipated rainy season did not happen, and the orphanage was in dire straits. The children were happy to take water containers and fill them with water from the village well. The water was a slow trickle and the women and children waited patiently for their turn. Until one day - on that day, Boniface and the other orphans were threatened by two angry women who questioned their right to share the water. In the end, the children were forced to leave without what they had come to the well to get - precious water for the orphanage.

Their house parents explain that the women are not mean, they are afraid. They fear they will not  have enough water for their families. As the oldest, Boniface is concerned and feeling responsible for not returning with what they needed. Ruth and Henry reassure him, and remind him that their well should soon be finished. Then, they will have all the water they need.

In the meantime, friends will  help to get the water when there is no lineup. When the well is finally completed, and the pipes connected, there is enough water for everyone at the orphanage ... not for the people in the valley, and that doesn't sit well with Boniface. He has a suggestion for some work in the spring. It seems the perfect solution, and speaks clearly of kindness and compassion. It shows young readers that everyone can make a difference - large or small. It all counts!

Eugenie Fernandes use acrylics in bold colors to take us to Kenya, and give expression to the children and adults who live at the Rolling Hills Residence there. She evokes the strong emotions felt when water is at the heart of existence in a land where it is extremely scarce. In 'The Story Behind the Story' the author provides information and much appreciated photographs from the story that inspired him to tell this one. This is what I refer to as 'faction' - a story told to incorporate real information.

No comments:

Post a Comment