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Thursday, November 17, 2016

the Water Princess, written by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. G. P. Putnam's Sons, Penguin. 2016. $23.99 ages 4 and up

"Water, come!
Do not make me wake
before even the sun is
out of bed!" I demand.
"Come, please," I say.
But the water
won't listen,
and I know
we will have to
walk so far
to the well"

In a book based on the childhood experiences of model Georgie Badiel, we learn about Princess Gie Gie who lives with her parents in a small village in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Every day the women of the village place cloth rings on their heads before hoisting the pots that will carry the precious well water back to their families. The walk for miles ...

Princess Gie Gie loves her home; she is happy and content to sing and dance when she is not worried about water.

"But I cannot make the water come closer.
I cannot make the water run clearer.
No matter what I command."

As they walk, mother and daughter sing and dance, share a lunch to give them the energy to move forward and finally, arrive at the well where they talk with friends, collect the water and begin the long trek back to their village. Only now can they cook their food, wash their clothes and quench a neverending thirst. Tomorrow, they will do it all over again.

The story is told with warmth and compassion for the plight of so many around the world. Peter Reynolds has created appealing characters and a spectacular West African backdrop. He uses browns, oranges and golds to invite readers into the warm brilliance of the African days, and blues and violets for the stunning expanse of the night sky. While sharing a sense of the beauty, they also evoke feelings about dust and heat and the need for clean water to sustain each of us.

In an endnote, we are asked to think on this:

"Imagine if you couldn't go to school because you had to spend each day walking for miles just to get water and not even know if the water you reach will be clean. This is true for nearly one billion people around the world. That's one of every six who doesn't have access to clean water."

Inspiring in its scope, we can only hope that sharing this book will move our children and others to look beyond themselves to problems being faced around the world, and in our own backyard. If you want to know more about how you can help, here are two websites.

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