Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kid Konnection: Lacey and the African Grandmothers by Sue Farrell Holler

Lacey and the African Grandmothers by Sue Farrell Holler (Rated : C)
Second Story Press
ISBN: 978-1897187616
Published Oct 1, 2009
Paperback, 118 pages

When my daughter first saw this book she told me she didn't know what to expect but as we began reading it together it captured her interest so much she didn't want me to stop reading. It is based on a true story about a Blackfoot young girl, living at Siksika First Nation (the second-biggest reserve in Canada, situated in Alberta), who decided to get involved in a project to help grandmothers in Africa look after their grandchildren who are orphaned because of the widespread AIDS epidemic.

Lacey Little Bird is twelve years old and has seven siblings. After school she goes to help out at the Sequoia School, an outreach school for teenage dropouts, several of who have children of their own, including her older sister, Angel. Lacey also spends a lot of time with her grandmother, Kahasi, who reminded me so much of my own grandmother, and who is teaching Lacey how to sew and do beadwork. Through their conversations Lacey learns about her Blackfoot heritage. When she hears of the Grandmothers Helping Grandmothers in Africa Project she wants to get involved and does this by making purses to sell. In the end she brings her community together in ways she never expected.

Lacey was such a real character with insecurities that most tweens can relate to. Although there were times when she seriously doubted she could make beautiful purses to sell, she did not give up and developed patience and the skills required. The book is interspersed with photos of the actual girl and events that inspired this story, adding realism to the story. I could see my daughter took a keen interest as she is the sort of kid who will take part in projects for a good cause.

This book is a Kid's Power Book--a series inspired by real stories of young ones who have reached out to make a difference. But it also touches on teen pregnancy, mild domestic violence, and embracing cultural differences. The message that we are all more similar than different was beautifully portrayed in this story.

The only part that concerned me and that I think was skimmed over a little too quickly was how badly Kevin treated Angel, his girlfriend with whom he has a child. Lacey hated the way he bullied her sister and although he lived in the same house as her family, I felt Angel and Lacey's parents were a little too oblivious to the problem. It was a source of distress for Lacey who many times felt helpless, so that later when this problem was resolved suddenly it did not seem realistic to me. The story's ending seemed rushed too and my daughter mentioned to me that it ended a little too fast.

However, it's a great story and it opened my daughter's eyes to issues she wasn't aware of. It's a sobering thought, but the heartwarming result of Lacey's determination to help others was so satisfying that it swelled our hearts at the end of the story when she is surprised and rewarded for her kindness.

I will count this book toward the following challenges: Middle Grade Book Challenge, Reading the World

Disclosure: Thanks to Lauren from Second Story Press for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

Every Saturday, Booking Mama hosts a feature called Kid Konnection—a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, visit Booking Mama.

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  1. Despite that slight flaw with the rushed ending, this book sounds like it's great for middle graders and filled with wonderful messages.

  2. Lacey sounds like a remarkable young lady whose story deserves to be told. Sorry to see the ending was rushed, though.


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