A Good Trade

Alma Fullerton, illus. by Karen Patkau. Pajama Press (Orca, dist.), $19.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-9869495-9-3
Patkau (One Watermelon Seed) offers simple yet soulful digital collages that gracefully supplement Fullerton’s (Libertad) understated storytelling in this book set in a Ugandan village. Nature plays an uplifting role: the opening spread reveals a single sunny poppy at close range, “white in a sea of green”; the early morning sky is ablaze with color; and cows graze peacefully. Yet the shadows cast by war, never mentioned explicitly, are dark: two rifle-wielding soldiers guard fields, and one child has a prosthetic leg. Upon returning from the village well, a boy named Kato peers into an aid worker’s truck that is filled with brightly colored items—Kato knows what they are, but Patkau only gives readers a couple of clues. Kato clearly appreciates what he sees, and he plucks the white poppy to give to the aid worker, who distributes her cargo of new shoes to Kato and other ecstatic children. The double gesture of kindness—the good trade—projects a strong spirit of generosity and gratitude, traits as universal as the appeal of a gift of cool new sneakers. Ages 5–up. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/21/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
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