________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 16. . . .December 19, 2014


Hope Springs.

Eric Walters. Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2014.
32 pp., hardcover & ebook, $19.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77049-530-2 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-77049-531-9 (epub).

Grades 1-5 / Ages 6-10.

Review by Janice Foster.

**** /4



Boniface hesitated. Then he asked softly, “Why were those people so mean to us?”

“What they did was not right. But it was not done out of meanness,” Ruth explained. “It was done out of fear.”

“Fear of what?” Boniface didn’t understand.

“Because of the drought, they’re afraid there will not be enough water for their families,” Ruth said.


Hope Springs is the second book that Canadian award-winning author and activist Eric Walters has set in Kenya highlighting the hardships of the people living in the Mbooni district. Based on a true story, as was Walters’ poignant picture book, My Name is Blessing. Walters uses the constant threat and fear of drought to illustrate kindness and generosity.

internal art     Young Boniface and a small group of children from the orphanage travel down the hill to the valley to fill their water containers from the tiny trickle that drips from the village spring. But the local people tell them they are unwelcome and they must leave. As the eldest, Boniface feels responsible and also frightened. The house parents at the orphanage, Ruth and Henry, explain that the villagers were mean because of fear that they would not have enough water for their families. Fortunately, the construction of a well for the orphanage is soon completed, and there is plenty of water. But Boniface, looking down the hill at the containers lined up by the spring, wants to help these desperate people. Henry and Boniface devise a plan to help the people build their own well.

      Boniface’s words, “when you give water, you give life,” clearly communicate the message of the story. Not only do these words convey the desperate need for water in this region in Kenya, but they show the benevolence of the young orphan.

      The vibrant illustrations by illustrator Eugenie Fernandes provide a colourful portrayal of the region where the story is set. Her expressive facial expressions show the variety of emotions felt by the characters. The section “The Story Behind the Story” at the end of the book connects the young audience with the reality of the situation of drought and water shortage and provides information on the organization, Creation of Hope, founded by Walters. The accompanying photographs of the real story, including photographs of the key characters, link a visual to the written word making the story come alive for the readers.

      Hope Springs highlights the melding of fiction with fact. This engaging story of kindness and compassion illustrates how the young can effect change. This is reinforced with the accompanying factual account of the real recent water project, ‘Hope Springs’, in the district of Mbooni in 2013. This book would be an excellent Social Studies resource as well as a starting point for introducing research from a fictional account.

Highly Recommended.

Janice Foster, a retired teacher and teacher-librarian, lives 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.
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ISSN 1201-9364
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