CM . . . . Volume XX Number 33 . . . . April 25, 2014
In most of Canada's urban areas, we likely (and correctly) assume that public libraries will be one of the services provided by local governments to their citizens. Taking our children to the library for story hours or to read or borrow books or other items is still an "event", but it is not an event of the same magnitude as going to the local library in a third world or developing country where public libraries are most often the exception rather than the rule.
In Jennifer Goes to the Library, Kathy Knowles' full-colour photographs follow a toddler, Jennifer, as her mother gets her ready for their visit to the library, a visit that culminates in Jennifer's getting a board book read to her by her mother, or Ma, as Jennifer calls her. The text accompanying each photo is a single sentence that speaks directly to the photo's content. Consequently, the text beneath a photo of Ma stirring the contents of a pot being heated over an open fire reads, "Ma makes porridge for me." In Canada, our local public library may be within walking distance, and, if it isn't, we can usually count on public transit or the family vehicle to transport us there. As the excerpt's contents indicate, Ma and Jennifer had to use three separate minibuses to make the trip, and the distance must have been significant as the text next to the picture of Ma and Jennifer walking up the sidewalk to the library includes the word "finally".
Like My Animal Book, Jennifer Goes to the Library was produced for a Ghanaian audience, and the library found in the photos is the Mamprobi Gale Community Library in Accra where Jennifer's mother, Joyce Yeboah, works as a librarian. However, the contents of Jennifer Goes to the Library will still work for a North American audience, and Canadian youngsters might be intrigued by aspects of Jennifer's life in Ghana, including the photo of her being bathed in a blue plastic tub in the out-of-doors.
Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB. He is sufficiently old enough to recall the pre-hydro days in rural Manitoba where the galvanized wash tub did double duty as the bathtub.
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