Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Magic Tree

Title: The Magic Tree: A Folktale from Nigeria
Author: T. Obinkaram Echewa Illustrated by E. B. Lewis

Mbi is an orphan boy who lives in a Nigerian village with many unkind relatives. When there is work to do, everyone calls his name. But when it's time to eat, all Mbi gets are scraps and bones to chew. Then one day, while everyone else is eating dinner and Mbi is sitting under an udara tree near the compound, a magical fruit falls from the tree. When he plants a seed from the fruit, a huge udara tree suddenly grows just for Mbi. Now he will never go hungry.

But when the meanest boy in the village tries to steal some of the fruit, Mbi makes the tree grow taller and taller, until its branches-with the boy on top of them-are lost in the clouds. Once the villagers understand that the tree will respond only to Mbi, he earns their respect and love. In the end, Mbi teaches all the villagers a lesson they'll never forget. In the final picture, Mbi is smiling and strong, dressed in a beautiful robe with gift coins pasted on his forehead.

Reflections: I enjoyed reading this book because at the end it gives a meaningful validity to the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child.” The author shares the perspective of orphan child who faces many adversities, such as dealing with work, loneliness, and hunger. In many Nigerian societies, orphans are sent to live with family members since there are few institutions for parentless children. I empathized with the character in the story since he was always willing to help anyone who needed his services, but they all forgot about him when he needed theirs. Although Mbi begins the story with no family or friends, in the end he is taken in by the entire village as their child and member of the community because the people see his noble and giving heart with the actions he constantly makes. The watercolor illustrations are really quite spectacular.

How would I use the book/curricular units: I would use the book as a read aloud to discover the meaning of unfamiliar Nigerian words using illustrations, patterns in the text, and surrounding sentences. Furthermore, this would be a great resource when discussing different cultures, especially when dealing with respect for others.

Domains of Social Justice:
1. Domain of self love and acceptance: Students learn how a community can give love and support to children who are impoverished.
2. Respect for Others: Students will learn the importance of appreciating people for their unpaid deeds and how to reciprocate their services when needed.
3. Exploring Issues of Social Justice: Students learn what effects social economics status has on a culture
4. Social Movement and Social Change: Students will learn what methods in the past have worked to help countries, such as Nigeria to improve poverty in local areas.
5. Taking Social Action: Students will be encouraged to participate in efforts to volunteer their time, donate clothes, and being involved in a community social service program and serve as buddies to other children.

Internet Sites:
Place where you order the book at a cheap price.

Contains a list of other African web/literature resource books and videotapes that can be viewed related to discuss Nigerian community.

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