Thursday, November 20, 2008

Picture Book Thursday: Virtual Blog Tour Stop!

We have a special installment of Picture Book Thursday today! A little while ago, Allison and I were contacted by Tilbury House Publishing and asked if we'd like a review copy of Amadi's Snowman by Katia Novet Saint-lot. We jumped at the chance! And then we were asked to be a stop on Katia's virtual book tour! We were very excited about that and of course said yes!

Amadi's Snowman is a delightful picture book about a young Nigerian boy who thinks he doesn't need to read to be a good businessman. Amadi runs away to the market just as his reading teacher is supposed to arrive. He spies an older boy reading a book about a snowman and becomes fascinated. The boy tells him that frozen rainwater is snow. He is chased away by the bookseller before he can find out more about snow and the snowman. He goes about his day but a whole new world has opened up for him. For the first time, he notices billboards and wonders what they say. He sees the other boys in a new light when he tells them about the snow and they have never heard of it and don't seem to care about it. He returns home to find his reading teacher has left him a present: the snowman book! In the end, he decides learning to read could be a great thing!

Saint-Lot has done a terrific job writing a story for children that more than touches the surface. Children can learn the value of learning through reading. Just as Amadi is learning about snow and another climate, my children reading Amadi's story can learn about a warmer climate where snow does not exist, and a culture very different from their own. I think this book also works well because the main character is a boy. Statistics show that boys read less than girls. This story shows a reluctant reader overcoming his assumptions about picking up a book and the joy that comes along with it.

And I have to acknowledge the illustrator, Dimitrea Tokunbo. She has done a great job of bringing Amadi to life. The images throughout the book are engaging and interesting. I really like the stylized images and how they are framed.

I only have good things to say about the book. If I had to strain hard to come up with anything, I'd just say the text is a bit on the long side, but my five year old remained engaged and very interested when I read the book to her. I believe the illustrations really drew her in. I think a 6-8 year old would really find the book interesting.

About the Author:
Author Katia Novet Saint-Lot grew up in Paris but spent her summers visiting her mother's family in Spain. She has also lived in the U.K. and the U.S. Her husband's work for UNICEF took them to Nigeria, and their experiences there provided the background for Amadi's story. They now live in India with their two daughters. As a child, Katia loved reading more than anything else. She also dreamed of becoming a writer and longed for travels to faraway places—she's now busy living her dreams with her family.

About the Illustrator:
Illustrator Dimitrea Tokunbo brings to life the day-to-day experiences of life in Nigeria, where her father grew up. "I want to represent the beauty of all children. I fell that growing up biracial, having a direct connection to two different cultures in the American context, gives my art a spirit and spark that speaks to the children who were overlooked when I was a child." Dimitrea Tokunbo illustrated two children's books for Boyds Mills Press, Sidewalk Chalk: Poems of the City by Carole Boston Weatherford, and Has Anybody Lost a Glove? by G. Francis Johnson. Tokunbo has written one children's book for Cartwheel Books (a Scholastic imprint), Together, illustrated by Jennifer Gwynne Oliver, and has a new book coming out next year with Scholastic, The Sound of Kwanzaa, illustrated by Lisa Cohen. Dimitrea enjoys visiting schools and libraries to share her stories with children. She lives in New York City with her two daughters.

Please visit Katia's blog to read all about Amadi's story and reactions about the book from around the world. You can track her global virtual tour there.

Please check back as Allison will be posting about a giveaway of Amadi's Snowman! :-)


Colleen said...

hmmm..sounds like a great book both because it introduces kids to a different culture, but also because it encourages reading. I'm off to enter the contest, but think this will go on my "to buy" list if I'm not lucky enough to win. Thanks for sharing this book with us!
Foreign Circus Library

Maw Books said...

I was on this tour as well. My three year old has been talking about snowmen every day since the stores started putting out Christmas decorations. I enjoyed this picture book.

Wrighty - said...

I still enjoy all children's books and this one looks beautiful! I would love to illustrate my own someday. This is such a different approach to the typical snowman story and as you said a great way to expose kids to different cultures. Great review and very informative.

Mette said...

The book sounds great. I am a children's librarian in Nuuk, Greenland, so the concept of not knowing snow will certainly a different story.I will certainly put the book on our look for and buy list

Deanna H. said...

I love books that are about literacy. Thanks for sharing!