cover image Hope for Haiti

Hope for Haiti

Jesse Joshua Watson, Putnam, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-25547-2

"When the earth shook and took away my neighborhood, I thought I would never be happy again," opens Watson's (I and I Bob Marley) touching story set in postearthquake Haiti. After the narrator and his mother assemble a shelter in a soccer stadium, the boy's spirits soar when he and other children play a spontaneous game of soccer with a ball made of rags. A kind man, who remembers watching Haitian soccer great Manno Sanon score goals in that same stadium, gives them a soccer ball that bears Sanon's autograph. When the children thank him, he replies, "Thank you for reminding me why there is hope for Haiti." In Watson's evocative, sunlit acrylic paintings, optimism radiates from the kids' faces. Though the makeshift village is almost too cheerful, Watson doesn't avoid the harsh realities of the disaster (an early scene shows a crowd jostling for food from U.N. peacekeepers), and his tropical palette underscores the hopeful nature of the book's message. As the children play beneath a brilliant aqua sky, their future feels bright indeed. Ages 5–8. (Oct.)