Flora and the Runaway Rooster
written by John Claude Bemis; illustrated by Robert Crawford
2014 (Heifer International)
Source: Orange County Public Library
Flora lived in a little village in the mountains of Rwanda. She desperately wanted to join her older brother and sister who go to school in the city. Flora loved soccer and could play at the school. Her siblings said she wasn't quite old enough to go with them, so she needed to stay home and help her parents with the chores. Perhaps her toughest job was keeping an eye on the rooster Kubika. Flora's brother warned "He's always looking for an adventure." Sure enough, when Flora was practicing soccer instead of doing her chores when Kubika went on the lam. I love how Bemis wrote "Kubika was strutting down the street." Flora tried to catch him, but he was too quick. Fortunately she literally ran into her friend Gideon who was delivering milk on his bicycle. Not afraid of adventure, Flora took the wheel and motored down a hair-raising path to the fields of Mother Yasenta . Despondent that she can't find Kubika and fearful that a nearby eagle has taken him, Flora caught the ear of Mother Yasenta. Remembering a previous gift of a calf from Flora's father, Mother Yasenta gave Flora a young rooster to replace the missing Kubika. She explained that she was simply "passing on the gift." As Flora and Gideon are leaving with the gift, Gideon's keen eye spotted the wayward Kubika but also the hungry eagle. What transpired afterward was a further "passing on the gift."
The gift of an animal is at the heart of Heifer International's mission to end hunger and poverty. John Claude Bemis and illustrator Robert Crawford have created a sumptuous story of kindness and beauty. It's always a good thing to introduce a setting like Rwanda that is very unfamiliar to students. The landscapes are gorgeous and the characters are uplifting. With a great lesson expertly told (no saccharine or heavy handedness here), this is a terrific book to add to your resources. I would ask students to write about a gift that they can pass on to others or write a story about a time that someone did something nice for them. It would also be cool to check out Heifer International and perhaps find a way to raise enough money (lollipops work well) to donate an animal.
P.S. I know John and he's one of the good guys. I am biased, but I also don't post cruddy books here regardless of connections. I posted about this book because it's flat out good and you should read it and share it. Enough said.