Ama’s Dream, by Grant N. Perryman
My review: ★★★★
This book is a depiction of everyday life in Ghana. The main character, Ama, is a 12-year-old girl living in a small village. The story follows her through her days of carrying water and working alongside her mother. She dreams of going to school, farming to raise some money, and then using the money to become a wandering seller of beautiful fabrics. American missionaries arrive (return after a previous visit) and reveal they’ve raised enough money to drill a well for the village. This will save so much work carrying water that Ama will be able to realize her dream of going to school. The book ends with a small amount of information about Ghana and about the organization the author volunteers with to help people there.
My favorite thing about this book is all of the great topics it touches, that kids in developed countries may not be aware of:
- the significant work that goes into carrying water
- water pollution, pollution-related illness, sharing water with livestock
- drought, thirst
- lack of access to school, illiteracy
- lack of all the possessions we’re used to: video games, toys, books
- gender roles
- village leadership structures
- the interconnection of people across the world, how those from afar can help
The artwork is great. The weakest part of the story is that it’s missing tension – we learn about Ama’s goals and how hard they are to achieve, but the emotions in the story are fairly detached. So even in the parts where Ama is sad, it comes across as rather academic instead of personal.
That said, it still has great academic value. The 7-9 age range is probably the best target, but all 3 of my kids (11/9/5 years old) were interested in the story while I was reading it. It makes a good basis for discussions between parents & kids, if you’re willing to take time to discuss topics like I’ve listed in the bullet points above. This book is also a great candidate for use in schools.