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It Takes A Village

by Jane Cowen-fletcher

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From Publishers Weekly
Cowen-Fletcher ( Mama Zooms ), who served in the Peace Corps in Benin, West Africa, offers an affecting interpretation of a Benin proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child." As a mother carries a tub of mangoes into the village to sell on market day, she asks her daughter Yemi to keep an eye on her younger brother, Kokou. The amiable girl readily agrees, and she proudly tells her mother's colleagues that she is old enough to watch him "All by myself." The women smile and nod, "but they knew better." Soon Yemi learns what they know so well: there are many watchful eyes on Kokou. When she turns her back to buy a bag of peanuts, Kokou wanders off. As a worried Yemi searches the marketplace for him, the illustrations--calm renderings in colored pencil with watercolor washes--show the boy being cared for by various vendors at the market. Reunited with Kokou, Yemi thanks each of them in turn. Cowen-Fletcher's simple narrative and quiet but detailed art provide a heartening portrait of a caring community, and an edifying glimpse of a culture unfamiliar to most American children. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2-A wonderfully illustrated story based on a West African proverb. Yemi's mother asks her to care for her younger brother and the girl is delighted at the prospect of taking on a grown-up task. The three of them set out to the village market, where Mama will sell mangoes. Yemi soon loses Kokou, but instead of the terrible things she imagines happening to him, the toddler is lovingly cared for by all of the adults he meets-he is fed, given something to drink, played with, and allowed to nap. The bright watercolors depict the people's multicolored garb and show various aspects of village life, especially the workings of an open-air market. Men and women, young and old, are shown selling peanuts, cloth, pottery, and mats. In the end, Yemi learns, along with readers, that "It takes a village to raise a child." A lovely, gentle, visually appealing book that conveys a sense of what it means to belong to a community.
Carol Jones Collins, Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
Ages 3-6. The communalism of African village life is at the heart of this cheerful picture book set in Benin, West Africa. The author spent two years in Benin with the Peace Corps, and her realistic colored pencil illustrations with watercolor wash show a variety of individual people in the vital marketplace, which is filled with pottery, fabrics, baskets, and produce. It's a simple story: Yemi is proud that she's to take care of her little brother, Kokou, while their mother is busy selling mangoes. When he wanders off, Yemi searches everywhere for him, but in fact, everyone in the village has taken special care of him, just as Yemi's mother always knew they would. The title comes from the African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child." Hazel Rochman

From Kirkus Reviews
By a former Peace Corps worker in Benin, a simple story that demonstrates one of that West African country's proverbs. Yemi is pleased to be trusted to watch her little brother Kokou while Mama sells their mangoes in the weekly market--``all by myself!'' she says proudly. But Mama is secure in the knowledge that Yemi will have help if she needs it. Sure enough, Kokou wanders off, but the other vendors look out for him: while Yemi searches anxiously, sure that Kokou is hungry, thirsty, or tired, the little boy is getting a snack, a drink, and a place to nap in various stalls. Yemi finds him, thanks everyone, and returns to Mama, who's unconcerned; she knows ``It takes a village to raise a child''--an assumption of shared responsibility that we all might take to heart. The author's deep-felt, attractively designed illustrations include many details of the marketplace and underline its warm, neighborly atmosphere. A nicely shaped and unusually likeable story. Note on the market. (Picture book. 4-8) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Card catalog description
On market day in a small village in Benin, Yemi tries to watch her little brother Kokou and finds that the entire village is watching out for him too.



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