Friday, April 29, 2016

Twenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank by Paula Yoo, illustrated by Jamel Akib (Picture Book Biographies from A to Z - Letter Y)

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.

Author's Note

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.

Additional Comments

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.

Review Round-Up: Books for Beginning Readers, April 2016

I am just finishing up a month of reviewing nothing but picture book biographies, so I haven't reviewed much of anything for beginning readers, but many others have picked up my slack. Here are the easy reader and chapter book reviews I collected from around the blogs during April.

Easy Readers

I didn't find too many easy reader reviews this month, but there are some new and old favorites among the ones I did collect.

Step Up Readers reviewed four easy reader books this month: Dance, Dance Underpants, SplashAmelia Bedelia By the Yard and Get a Hit, Mo!

Flying Off My Bookshelf had a review of an older title soon to be reissued with new illustrations, The Last Chocolate Cookie. Its sister blog, Jean Little Library, reviewed What am I? Where am I?

Becky's Book Reviews highlighted two classic picture books in easy reader format, Best Friends for Frances and A Bargain for Frances.

Finally, Provo Library Children's Book Reviews had posts about Freckleface Strawberry: Loose Tooth! and Big Cat.

Chapter Books

There was a lot of variety among chapter book reviews this month.

Jean Little Library and Flying Off My Bookshelf had a total of 6 posts about chapter books:

Ms. Yingling Reads reviewed the third Syvlie Scruggs book, The Spelling Bee Scuffle, as well as the new Hardy Boys chapter book, The Video Game Bandit and the first two books in the Dr. Kitty Cat series.

Kids Book a Day also had three reviews: Weekends with Max and His Dad, Noodlehead Nightmares, and Fluffy Strikes Back. Weekends with Max and His Dad was also featured at Librarian's Quest.

Other chapter book reviews from this month included:
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