________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 22 . . . . June 27, 2008


Ollie's Field Journal: A 9/10ths Happy Story from Africa.

Patti McIntosh. Illustrated by Tara Langlois. Photographs by Dustin Delfs.
Edmonton, AB: Junior Global Citizen Club Books/ Maggie & Pierrot (67-21 10405 Jasper Ave. NW, T5J 3S2) 2008.
40 pp., spiral bound, $24.00.
ISBN 978-0-9739332-4-6.

Subject Headings:
Niger-Juvenile fiction.
Malnutrition - Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

**** /4


The doctor saw us sitting under the tree and came to talk to us. This is what he said:
"Girls, it is important for you to know that things are not perfect. Sad things happen. But you keep trying as hard as you can. Just like the mothers who walk with their children to the hospital. You put one foot in front of the other and you keep going."


Designed to show children how they can make a difference in the world, Ollie's Field Journal was influenced by two articles published by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF). The first article described the work that the organization accomplished in Niger while the second talked about témoignage- the importance of speaking out about important issues or bearing witness. Written in field journal format, the book follows 10-year-old Ophélie (aka Ollie) as she travels from her home in Toronto to visit her mother who is working in Niger, Africa, during what is known as the "hunger season." After a brief stop at the MSF headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, to learn about malnutrition (over 60 million children worldwide suffer from it) and the ways in which MSF tries to help malnourished children, Ollie arrives in Niger where she visits regular and mobile nutrition hospitals. She describes the process by which a child is diagnosed and treated. Ready to Use Therapeutic Food, nicknamed by Ollie as the Peanut Paste Prescription, consists of small packages of peanut butter-like paste fortified with vitamins and minerals. These packets are provided to mothers to feed their babies and children at home, making an overnight hospital stay unnecessary. Though Ollie experiences firsthand the sadness that is evident when a Nigerian child dies from malnutrition, she reports that nine-tenths of malnourished children who get the Peanut Paste Prescription are helped, hence the "9/10ths happy story" reference in the book's title.

internal art

     Labels, ticket stubs, passports, paperclipped photographs, maps, drawings and pages torn from spiral notebooks are just some of the "illustrations" used in the book. Even the paper on which the book is printed feels rather rough, adding to the journal/scrapbook effect. The text, written from the perspective of a 10-year-old, and the journal format are an effective combination that will attract readers and sustain their interest. Readers are also invited to send their footprints (crayon and footprint page are provided) to Ollie via regular mail or email and to get involved in the Junior Global Citizen organization.

     An excellent book for raising awareness about important world issues affecting children.

Highly Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.