cover image My Heart Will Not Sit Down

My Heart Will Not Sit Down

Mara Rockliff, illus. by Ann Tanksley. Knopf, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-84569-7

Inspired by a true incident, Rockliff’s (The Busiest Street in Town) story demonstrates what real generosity looks like. It takes place in a Cameroon village, where an American teacher tells his students that the Great Depression is worsening in his country, “far away across the great salt river.” His news that children were starving deeply affects Kedi, who knows hunger firsthand, and the girl’s “heart stood up for them in sympathy.” When she asks her mother and other villagers for money to send to America, they respond that they have none to spare, yet Kedi’s “heart would not sit down.” The narrative conveys a keen sense of Kedi’s compassion and determination to help, which, as the conclusion proves, is contagious. Rendered in watercolor, pen-and-ink, and oils, Tanksley’s (The Six Fools) pared-down, childlike pictures provide a sketch of Cameroon village life, their electric hues of orange, magenta, and scarlet jumping from the pages. An author’s note, which puts the story in real-life context and spotlights others who, despite their own need, have aided the hungry, offers a useful springboard for discussion. Agent: Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Ages 5–8. (Jan.)