I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu (Refiloe Moahloli)

Hello, friends! Our book today is I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu, written by Refiloe Moahloli and illustrated by Zinelda McDonald, a lovely picture book about compassion and unity.

There is an ancient philosophy in many African cultures called “Ubuntu” – the idea that someone is only a person in relation to others, that these human connections to others are what give us life and purpose. To show kindness to others is to show kindness to ourselves; to harm others is to hurt ourselves. Based on this philosophy, this lyrical picture book explores the idea of human connection, community, and empathy.

Stunning. Ubuntu itself is a rich concept, yet one that can be understood universally, especially through the eyes of young audiences, and this combination of text and artwork imparts its core lessons beautifully. Moahloli’s writing is simple and heartwarming to read aloud, and pairs exquisitely with McDonald’s vividly colorful illustrations, featuring a racially-, religiously-, socioeconomically-, and ability-diverse cast of child characters. The length is great for a storytime, and JJ loved the even, comforting tone and easy-to-read text. This is a fantastic way to not only learn a little about a specific cultural tradition, but to also reinforce its universal themes, and we loved it. Overall, a must-read, and Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

14 Cows For America (Carmen Agra Deedy)


Summer Reading Day 55: Our pick today was 14 Cows For America by Carmen Agra Deedy. It’s a deeply moving true story, told in picture book form, of a young Maasai man who was studying in America during September 11th. When he returns to visit his people the following spring, he tells them of what he witnessed, moving them to want to help heal the heart of America. So they decide to give 14 cows, each symbols of life and peace, to the nation of the United States of America as a gesture of goodwill and solidarity.

This is possibly one of my favorite children’s books ever written. The story is incredibly touching and has a beautiful message: no sincere gesture is ever too small. The artwork is absolutely BREATHTAKING, realistic and dreamlike at once, and even though it’s a slightly long story for most one year olds, she was so enraptured of the art that I was able to get away with it. The events of September 11th are dealt with well, the descriptions and art are subtle enough to convey the tragedy without being scary for young readers. And I dare you to read this to your little ones without choking up and/or finding a tear in your eye. It’s a book that will move you. Thumbs up.