James Rumford, Author and Illustrator
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, Fiction, 2010
Suitable for Ages: 4-7
Themes: Africa, Educating Children, Schools, Multicultural
Opening: “In the country of Chad, it is the first day of school. The dry dirt road is filling up with children. Big brothers and big sisters are leading the way.”
Synopsis: Thomas and the other children are excited about their first day at school and pester their older siblings with questions. When they arrive at the schoolyard, there is no school. But, there is a teacher who says, “We will build our school. This is the first lesson.” The children are so eager to go to school that they quickly learn to build a frame, make mud bricks and dry them in the sun, and build their school and mud desks. After they spend a year filling their heads with knowledge, school is over. Summer arrives, and torrential rains destroy the school. But, the children leave knowing they will return to build their school again.
Why I love this book: James Rumford, a former Peace Corps volunteer who taught school in Chad, drives home a very strong message in Rain School. Learning and going to school is very important to children in third world countries. They want an education! Such a strong contrast to what many children in first world countries take for granted. Rumford’s text is very simple and his bright and colorful ink and pastel illustrations tell a powerful story. This book should be in every school library. Visit James Rumford at his website.
On Monday, September 9, I will review A Girl Called Problem, by Katie Quirk. It is an MG novel about a Tanzanian girl who wants to attend school even though the boys and men don’t want her to attend.