My Name is Blessing

My Name is Blessing9781770493018_p0_v1_s260x420My Name is Blessing

Eric Walters, Author

Eugenie Fernandes, Illustrator

Tundra Books,  Fiction, 2013

Suitable for ages: 6-9

Themes: Kenya, Poverty, Disability, Orphan Crisis, Hope

Opening: “Muthini watched his grandmother stirring the big pot. He knew there would be not much to eat. But whatever there was would be shared equally among her nine grandchildren. They lined up, oldest to youngest. Muthini was lastUsing the two fingers of his right hand he scooped up some porridge.”

Synopsis: Muthini and his grandmother, Nyanya, live in rural Kenya near the mountains. Nyanya barely makes enough money to support nine orphaned grandchildren. Muthini, whose name means “suffering” is the youngest and was born with no fingers on his left hand and only two on his right. He is teased by others. When he asks his grandmother why he as fewer fingers she tells him “we are each given more of some things and less of others.” ” It is so sad that other children only have ten fingers when you have a larger heart, a bigger brain, and greater spirit.” One day his grandmother realizes that she is too old to help Muthini. She takes him to a special residential home/school for children without families, where he meets the director. Gabriel, looks at Muthini’s hands and only sees his potential. But Gabriel will only accept Muthini if he changes his name to Baraka, which means blessing.

Why I like this book:  Eric Walters’ story is about a real boy named Baraka and his grandmother, Grace. His text is very lyrical and heartwarming. His extraordinary story begins by showing Muthini’s disability as a misfortune.  But Gabriel focuses on Baraka and his great heart and spirit. Baraka is a blessing and not one who suffers.  Eugenie Fernandes’ acrylic illustrations are done in soft browns and yellows hues and capture both the emotion and spirit of the story.  He gives great detail to facial expressions.

Resources: There are five pages of back matter about Baraka and his grandmother. Walters shares information about the Mbooni Region of Kenya — the poverty, famine and disease which leaves 500 children orphaned. He chronicles his 2007 visit with photographs of Grace and her family, their meager living conditions and the region. Walters response to what he sees by founding The Creation of Hope, a residential care center for children. You can read about Eric Walter’s work in the book and on his website. Make sure you check out the page devoted to the Creation of Hope.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

26 thoughts on “My Name is Blessing

  1. Sounds like an endearing book. My mom used to babysit a boy who was born with missing fingers on both hands. I like the grandmother’s wisdom: “we are each given more of some things and less of others.” Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Nice choice. The cover art is lovely. Last year I met a writer whose fingers were missing at birth. She is collecting titles with characters like Muthini. I can’t wait to share this one with her! Thank-you!

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    • This one was such a heartwarming story. The grandmother may have not been able to keep her youngest grandson, but she had much wisdom to share and got him to the right place.

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  3. Beautiful story, Pat. Loved your review and I so want to find this. I checked out Eric’s website and was amazed at how he came about writing in the beginning. Inspiring! Thanks!

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    • I hope you find a copy of the book. I think that happens, once you observe something so horrific you know what you have to do. I’m sure you would respond that same way because of your deep compassion and the work you already do.

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  4. Heartrending! I love the beauty of this. Those schools in Kenya can be so wonderful. If it weren’t for those who fund places like this and the wonderful, vocational people who run them, children like Baraka would live a life begging on the rubbish dumps of Nairobi.

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    • Thank you Niamh! I love true stories like this and the wonderful school that helped Baraka. You’re right, he could have ended up in the rubbish dumps of Nairobi. The author has created such a positive and supportive program.

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  5. Eric Walters is a wonderful author. His books have meaning and this one is especially meaningful. It is great that he is using his talents to help these children so they can have a better life.

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