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Monica Hughes
Illustrated by Luis Garay
Toronto, Lester Publishing, 1993. 32pp, cloth, $16.95
ISBN 1-895555-27-2. CIP.

Junior Kindergarten to Grade 4 / Ages 4 to 9

Reviewed by Patricia L.M. Butler.

Volume 21 Number 5
1993 October

Concepcion is one of the thirty million children around the world who live in the streets. She is forced to make her home in the barrio of a Central American city when her grandmother dies and the landlord must rent the land to a family who can afford more rent. Concepcion takes with her to the city the only legacy possible from her grand­mother - the resolve to survive, a handful of bean, corn and chill seeds, and the knowledge that in order to survive one must always save enough to plant and share.

The life of barrio children is a shock to her after her peaceful life with Grandmother, but she quickly sets about planting and tending her garden. Through her determination, the plants survive, bringing both food and hope to the children who have learned to co­operate through her example.

Barrio life is, thankfully, not first-hand knowledge for most of our children, and this poignant introduction to the plight of others carries just the right tone to make its point without being overbearing or frightening. This is Garay's first children's book and he uses the experience of his native Nicaragua to depict the realities of the children who must live in this way. Hughes, an experienced story-teller, gently leads the reader through the story, imparting a sense of hope to the younger reader newly faced with this ugly side of the world.

The message, its illustration and overall presentation make this book a highly recommended addition to the collection.

Patricia L.M. Butler is a freelance librarian in Vancouver, British Columbia.
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