The Picture Book Buzz

I Am Farmer: Growing an Environmental Movement in Cameroon - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

January 11, 2019

So many of us try to be environmental. We recycle, carpool, use less water, dabble in growing fresh food, and maybe even compost. Some even raise their own chickens. While this helps, a much smaller number work to save the environment and human lives by providing safe water and responsible farming and animal husbandry practices.

 

Miranda and Baptiste Paul have a new picture book, releasing February 1st, that explores one man's life-time dedication to improving the lives and the environment of Cameroon.

 

I Am Farmer: Growing an Environmental Movement in Cameroon

 

Authors: Baptise and Miranda Paul

 

Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon

 

Publisher: Millbrook Press (2019)

 

Ages: 7-10

 

Nonfiction, Biography

 

Themes:

Environmentalism, farming, following your dreams, and helping others. 

 

Synopsis (from Barnes and Noble):

Discover the true story of how environmentalist Farmer Tantoh is transforming the landscape in his home country of Cameroon.

When Tantoh Nforba was a child, his fellow students mocked him for his interest in gardening. Today he's an environmental hero, bringing clean water and bountiful gardens to the central African nation of Cameroon. Authors Miranda Paul and Baptiste Paul share Farmer Tantoh's inspiring story.

 

Opening Lines:

This is northwestern Cameroon.

Green.

Wet.

Alive.

The rainy season has begun.

 

A young boy arrives at his grandmother's farm. His feet squish between rows of cabbage and beans. His small hands plunge into the dirt. "Nshee!"

 

What I Like about this book:

Tantoh is an amazing individual. In the face of pressure from teachers and discrimination by peers, he stuck to his dream (his heart's desire) of being a farmer and improving Cameroon. After a long fight with typhoid fever, he is determined to ensure that no one else dies of something vital to life - clean water. After studying in the U.S., he returns to Cameroon to make a change.

 

Using his moto as a guide, "When you don't have what you want, use what you have," he gathered and inspired communities to build botanical and rain gardens (to stop erosion), a catchment system, and reservoirs. I think his moto, and determination to make a change, will resonate with children who often want to do something, but feel small or unempowered.

Encouraging readers to help in their own or neighboring communities, finding ways to support organizations that are making changes, or taking environmental vacations (a growing trend), to help others, themselves, and the environment today.

 

If you enjoyed the illustrations of Miranda Paul's One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia, then you'll recognize and be excited to see more of Elizabeth Zunon's work. Once again, she uses her cut paper to add texture and traditional patterns to the illustrations. Creating a dimensional feast and a way for younger readers to access the story. For instance, the amoeba's floating around the pages, help demonstrate, and/or provide an excellent jump-off point to discuss,  what typhoid fever is, where it comes from (dirty water), and why Tantoh was sick for seven years. 

 

* I received an advance e-copy for purposes of this review.

 

Resources:

- take a tour of a reservoir or dam and discover where your water comes from, how it's kept clean, and actions you can take to help it stay clean;

- grow your own herb or vegetable garden (or even a single tomato plant);

- write or draw an image of change you would like to make in your community or the world; or

- read about others who have worked to make a positive change in their community. What are the similarities and differences in their upbringing and their struggles? 

 

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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