Twenty-Two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank
by Paula Yoo
illustrated by Jamel Akib
2014. Lee & Low Books.
Muhammad Yunus (1940 - ) pioneered microcredit and microfinance, which earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.
The narrative begins without identifying Yunus's significance, which makes it hard for the reader to become invested in his story. It starts with his involvement with the Boy Scouts and his desire to help others even as a child. Then it describes how he was inspired to help break the cycle of poverty by a meeting with a Bangladeshi woman whose livelihood making stools was dependent upon her ability to pay for supplies.
About the Illustrations
The pictures in this book are done in chalk pastel. They are functional, but not very kid-friendly, and they don't really add much to the text. The cover is also unfortunately bland.
There is an "Afterword" which shows how Yunus's economic system was adapted successfully for use in other countries and lists other awards he has won in addition to the Nobel Prize. There is also a photo of Yunus, and an "Author's Sources" section at the back of the book.
For a publisher that has come out so strongly in favor of diversity, to the point that it shames other, bigger publishers into revealing the (lack of) diversity amongst their own employees, Lee & Low didn't really do a very good job of making sure its agenda made it into this book. There are plenty of opportunities to explain Indian culture and history, but these are glossed over, as though the author assumes the reader would already know those details. Instead of portraying anything interesting about Bangladeshi culture, or presenting Yunus's personality, it mostly just lists places and dates with very little context, making the story far more tedious than necessary. The system Yunus started is interesting, especially for kids who already have some background knowledge about economics and social justice, but this book didn't excite me about the subject matter.