Ten Cents a Pound
Nhung N. Tran-Davies, Author
Josée Bisaillon, Illustrator
Second Story Press, Fiction, Apr. 18, 2018
Suitable for Ages: 5-9
Themes: Family Relationships, Love, Sacrifice, Educating girls, Poverty, Multicultural
Opening: Mama, I see your hands / Coarsened and scratched, / By the twigs and bark of the trees, row on row, / By the leaves and berries, picked one by one. / I will stay with you.
Synopsis: A young girl is torn by her desire to stay home with her family and the familiarity of their village, and her desire to go to school and discover the world beyond the mountains that surround them.
Every time the girl insists that she will stay, her mother repeats that she must go — that there is more to life than working in the coffee fields. Their loving exchange reveals the struggles and sacrifices that they both will have to make. But her mother is determined to give her a better future.
Why I like this book:
Nhung N. Tran-Davies’ endearing tale is about an Asian mother who works in the coffee fields to earn ten cents a pound to buy her daughter books, pencils and shoes that will make it possible for her to attend school. She wants to give her daughter the opportunities that she never had. The daughter is concerned because she sees her mother’s stooped back, calloused hands, and strained eyes. She can’t bear to leave her mother, but she knows that education is the only way for her to make a better life for herself and her family. There is love, heart and a deep bond between mother and daughter.
This lyrical and sensitive picture book begs to be shared and discussed with children. It is important for readers to understand the difficulties children face in order to attend school around the world. Josée Bisaillon’s illustrations are exquisite and expressively depict the mother’s struggle, while showing the whimsy of the girl reading and dreaming of far away places. They work beautifully with the text and illuminate the message in the story.
Resources: This story will generate lively classroom discussions. and is a great exercise in empathy. Ask children what would they do to get to school? How important is school to you? Why do children in poor villages want to go to school? Ask children about how they would feel if they didn’t have a pair of shoes to wear to school?
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.