As a teacher, I’m ever on the look out for quality picture books that will support my aim to infuse social justice and equity issues into our work across the curriculum. Sometimes it can be tricky to find stories that suggest the complexity and reality of a difficult issue without becoming scary, overwhelming or didactic. Amadi’s Snowman, by Katia Novet Saint-Lot, illustrated by Dimitrea Tokunbo, is a story I’m eager to take into the classroom because it gets the balance of teaching and strong story-tellying just right.
In Nigeria, Amadi plans to grow up to be a successful Igbo businessman, earning as much money as he needs cleaning cars, delivering items in the market, or being a merchant. His mother (like mother’s everywhere), wants Amadi to stop complaining about having to go to free reading lessons with Mrs. Chikodili. He can’t see the use in them, he doesn’t like them and (like children everywhere), he does his best just to ignore his mother’s nagging.
As with so many kids, and adults too, all it takes to turn Amadi into a reader is one special book, in this case, a picture book about a snowman. He is captivated by this book that tells him about something he has never seen before, let alone imagined. He discovers the magic of books and becomes inspired to learn the secrets of reading.
You’re sure to love this touching book. It’s made for the classroom and for gift-giving. There is real lightness in Katia Novet Saint-Lot’s writing that will draw children into Amadi’s world and make his experiences seem all the more real. She tells the simple story of a boy’s journey through his day, and readers are left to infer the challenges that a person might face in a life without reading. This is subtle work that leaves room for conversations to happen before, during and after reading. Rural life in Africa is gorgeously depicted throughout by Dimitrea Tokunbo. Her illustrations – bold and intensely coloured – make you feel transported to Amadi’s community and add vitality to the story.
Teachers will find some excellent resources for using this text in the classroom at Tilbury House. I plan to incorporate Amadi’s Snowman into my unit of study on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Here are a few other reviews, as well as the link to the author’s wonderful blog (check out her awesome Global Virtual Tour for Amadi’s Snowman while you’re there):
Katia Novet Saint-Lot will be here at Shelf Elf for an interview this Saturday. So be sure to pop by!