The Girl Who Buried Her Dreams in a Can: A True Story

illus. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. 40p. ebook available. photos. Viking. Oct. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780670016549.
K-Gr 3—Trent, who is now changing lives by advocating for the importance of literacy and education, tells the story of her childhood in Zimbabwe in this eye-catching picture book. Though girls in her village were prevented from attending school because they were needed to cook, clean, and fetch water, as a child, Trent (unnamed in the story) thirsted for an education. Her grandmother acknowledged the need for "a young woman to be our eyes, to read and write for us," and her brother secretly taught her to read and write. The text sketches out traditional life through small details that are lyrically described. Soft watercolor paintings across spreads make Shona village life accessible enough for both group and individual use, depicting the author reading to her grazing cattle, attending school with her brother, and growing up and sending her own children to school. Eventually, with the support of the entire village, Trent achieved her dream of traveling to America, successfully earning multiple degrees, and establishing a foundation to improve the lives of children in rural Africa. In her author's note, Trent explains how school and books showed her another world, "a magical place where malnutrition and violence were not part of daily reality."Compare and contrast with Suneby Razia's Ray of Hope: One Girl's Dream of an Education (Kids Can, 2013) and Jeanette Winter's Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of Bravery (S.&S., 2014) for other picture books that address the struggle to ensure that girls receive an education.
VERDICT A wonderful selection for discussing the importance of education.

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