A moment of communal compassion is remembered in this fictionalized retelling of a too-little-known tale.
When little Kedi learns from her Cameroon village’s teacher that the people of New York are starving thanks to the Great Depression, she can’t get the problem out of her head. Determined to help the hungry children overseas, Kedi appeals to all the people of her village, only to be rebuffed. No one has enough money to pay the colonial head tax, let alone spare riches for an unknown poor. Downcast, Kedi returns to school, only to discover that her efforts to open the hearts of her neighbors have worked beyond her wildest hopes. Rockliff’s recap of this true 1931 incident taps into the wonder of altruism toward total strangers. An author's note explaining not just the story’s background but also similar historical incidents proves to be almost more fascinating than the book itself. All this is accompanied by Tanksley’s lush, vibrantly colored paintings, which take seemingly simple images and render them big, beautiful and bold. They make what might otherwise be a rote story lush.
The human capacity to reach out to those who suffer is lovingly and inspiringly rendered. (Picture book. 4-8)