Life for a girl in the slums of Nairobi.
Beatrice, 13, tells readers about her life in Kibera, a shantytown of discarded metal, wood and other refuse. The youngest of five children, she lives with her eldest brother, Francis, and his wife. Her father perished in in a car accident, and her mother died of tuberculosis when she was 9 years old. Every weekday morning, rain or shine, she walks half an hour to school, a building built of tin. Her favorite subjects are English and Kiswahili, the official language of Kenya. Beatrice is the school timekeeper during lunch. They eat githeri, a special Kenyan dish made from beans and maize. She stays after school for extra lessons but must be home before six o'clock, when it gets dark. Often, her dog Soldier is waiting for her. Beatrice's nightly chores include making dinner and ironing. If there's enough paraffin in the small lamp, she'll also study. On weekends, she works in her brother's shop, washes clothes and helps with the marketing. All of this is told in Beatrice's matter-of-fact first-person voice. The book ends with a two-page description of the Kibera slum and a sad picture of it. Stone's beautiful color photographs—40 in all—work in tandem with Williams' simple, direct prose to capture the poverty of Kibera as well as Beatrice's resilience and many unique aspects of her life, likely unfamiliar to most American children.
Informative and affecting. (Picture book. 5-10)