Nonfiction Monday: 14 Cows for America

14 Cows for America is a quiet CYBILS nonfiction picture book nominee.  Since is was in PDF form, it could have been overlooked or not given as much attention as other books that have arrived in the mail. Boy, I am happy that I shared it with students last week.

I used it as part of a questioning strategy lesson. (My school is teaching lessons based on the book, 7 Keys to Comprehension)  In collaboration with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah, Carmen Agra Deedy has written a compelling account of  how Kimeli’s tribe, the Massai, took action after the horrible tragedy on 9/11.

The story begins, “The remote village waits for a story to be told. News travels slowly to this corner of Kenya…” 

and ends 

“…Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded nor a people so small they cannot offer might comfort.”   As Kimeli talks with the elders and then the rest of the tribe, their plan to send 14 cows develops, much to the surprise of the American Embassy. 

Thomas Gonzalez’s illustrations create a feeling that you are in Africa, in Kenya and standing with the tribe. It’s his first picture books for children. 

My students were fascinated with this book. We lingered over the illustrations.   We actually ran to the bitter end of the time period with them because of the questions they asked. 

I will purchase 14 Cows to America for the library. We need more stories of hope and small acts of kindness in the world.  We need books that show how tragedy can spark the spirit in unexpected ways. 

Rasco from RIF is hosting Nonfiction Monday.  Head over and see what else is being read and reviewed. 

Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah