CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 5 . . . . October 26, 2007
Otu, a 14-year-old boy from Ghana, tells about living in a small village, and, in particular, a day accompanying the fishermen going far out to sea. The simple, straightforward text and crisp colourful photographs give the reader a capsule of everyday life for a child in an African coastal village. Through Otu's narration, the reader learns much about a typical child's life but also about the social mores of his village. For instance, he states that onboard the canoe his grandfather eats first, and he, being the youngest, eats last. The reader also learns how the catch is shared, prepared for keeping, and used in cooking.
Otu Goes to Sea will be very useful in a social studies setting. For example, comparisons could be made between how the men from Goi make their fishing boat and those made by other native groups such as the Pacific Northwest Haidas or the Peruvian fishermen of Lake Titicaca.
A brief mention that sometimes there are no fish in the nets underscores their dependence on this resource and could lead to discussions about the dwindling of world-wide natural resources in general. Another discussion could be undertaken as to why the sea turtle caught in their net is thrown back.
The text is printed in a large type font, thereby making the book very easy to read. In addition, the text never takes up more than three quarters of the page thus allowing for ample white space.
At the beginning of the book, a simple map of Africa highlights Ghana's location. In addition, a short letter from "Auntie Noreen" explains how she lived in the community of Goi. Along with a glossary of terms appended at the back, these features lend authenticity to the book.
Marilynne V. Black is a former B.C. elementary teacher-librarian who completed her Master of Arts in Children's Literature (UBC) in the spring of 2005. She is now working as an independent children's literature consultant with a web site.
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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.