Monday, February 05, 2007

Cameroon: Around the World With Your Library Card

In a previous post, I said I would feature both Cameroon and West Virginia. Well, I fell behind in my West Virginia books, and I'm not quite ready to do a review. Look for West Virginia books next Monday. We have some great books set in WV, so it will be a fun review.

As I write this, it's a little after 5 PM in Yaounde (capital of Cameroon), and it's a very warm 86 degrees. Humidity is 66%.

Cameroon is diverse in its people and its terrain; there are approximately 200 ethnic groups and 54 languages identified in the country. Cameroon is diverse in religion as well; 45% of the people practice traditional African religions, 35% are Christians, and 20% are Muslims. Mountains are in the west, grasslands in the north, and tropical lowlands are in the south.

(Source: Our wonderful World Book database)

We have two picture books set in Cameroon:

The Village of Round and Square Houses by Ann Grifalconi

The Fortune Tellers by Lloyd Alexander

When you grow up in a village where men live in square houses and the women live in round houses, you don't think there is anything unique or strange to it. Until you get old enough to explore on your own and see other places, you don't question it.

Our unnamed narrator, apparently looking back on her childhood, is ready to tell us the story of her childhood in this unusual village, and why the women live in round houses and the men in square houses.

Told masterfully through vivid narration and illustration both by Ann Grifalconi, The Village of Round and Square Houses is a story centered around community, repect of elders, and rebirth after tragedy. It lends itself perfectly for a read aloud.

The Fortune Tellers is also a great read aloud told with great humor that will be appreciated by many elementary age schoolchildren. It's the story of a young carpenter who visits a fortune teller, hoping to hear fabulous fortunes.

Through a case of mistaken identity, the young, honest, and handsome carpenter receives some very good fortune. There's a very subtle and funny message about the business of fortune telling, but it isn't too obvious and didactic.

Next week: West Virginia, including books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Cynthia Ryland, and Laurence Yep. Fabulous books.

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