Monday, November 5, 2007

Papa, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse

I'm always on the lookout for books that feature characters in different cultures, and this heartwarming book is a true gem. A companion book to Joosse's Mama, Do You Love Me?, a young boy, "Tenderheart," tests his father's love for him with a series of questions and scenarios. ("How much do you love me?" "How long?" "What if I fell asleep and the hyenas killed my birthright cow?") After each question, Papa reassures his tenderheart that he loves him unconditionally.

The book features Barbara Lavallee's beautiful illustrations depicting the Maasai culture of Kenya and introduces children to a culture they'll most likely find to be different than their own. While my daughter is too young to understand the meaning of the book right now, I was especially touched by the theme that no matter what happens in life, no matter what mistakes a child makes, his/her parent will not stop loving him/her. I also love the fact that the book uses many native Maasai terms and even includes a glossary at the end.

Combined with the touching theme, beautiful illustrations, and rich depiction of the Maasai culture, this book is a must-read for parents and children.

Reading tip: There are many opportunities for learning in this book. Check out this teacher's guide for children in grades 2-4.

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