Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Title: 14 Cows for America
Author: Carmen Agra Deedy
Illustrator: Thomas Gonzalez
 Publisher: Peachtree
Publication Date: 2009
Genre/Format: Picture Book
Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah is a student in New York studying to be a doctor during the time of 9/11. He returns to his native Kenya shortly thereafter and tells and the Maasai children a story that has “burned a hole in his heart.”  In Kenya the cow is a symbol of life and Niyomah asks the elders of his tribe to bless his cow to give to help the people of America.  Altogether 14 cows were offered that day as a symbol of hope and healing for a grieving American nation.

Personal thoughts:
I am always looking for new books to read and share with students. Many stories about 9/11 have emerged in the last few years, but I had not heard of the story of Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah. I think it was the title that drew me to the book first, then I recognized the author (love her books….The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark is my one of my favorites); however it was the illustrations by Thomas Gonzalez that kept me turning page after page. Look at the last illustration in the book and you will be surprised at what you see in the child’s eyes.
Read Together:   grades K-12
Read without help: grades 3-12
Read With:  The Little Chapel that Stood (A. B. Curtiss, 2003); FIREBOAT: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey (Maira Kalman, 2002).
Snippet of Text:
“Buildings so tall they can reach the sky? Fires so hot they can melt iron? Smoke and dust so thick they can block out the sun? The story ends. More than three thousand souls were lost. A great silence falls over the Maasai.” (Unnumbered pages)
“They treat their cows as kindly as they do their children. They sing to them. They give them names. They shelter the young ones in their homes. Without the herd, the tribe might starve. To the Maasai, the cow is life.” (Unnumbered pages)
 Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah news report trailer

Connections to Writing: Expository—(1) Write about the factors that contributed to the Maasai’s to nomadic lifestyle. (2) Compare and contrast your lifestyle and the lifestyle of the Maasai tribe. (3) Create an ABC book about Kenya and/or the Maasai tribe.
Connections to Writing: Narrative(1) Create a found poem using words and phrases in 14 Cows for America (2) After reading, students will write a personal connection response in journal. Share in small groups then ask for students to share writing in a whole class setting. (3) Write a journal entry, from the point of view of Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah, as he remembers that awful day of September 11, 2001.
Connections to Social Studies:
This book can serve as a catalyst for a research project on Kenya and the Maasai tribe: culture, geographic location, shelter, diet, music and dance and clothing.
Topics Covered: Compassion, generosity, cattle, 9/11, Kenya, Maasai, nomadic people, South Africa, Naiyomah Wilson Kimeli, gifts
Translated to Spanish:  Yes
Translated to other languages: No
Other formats: No

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