14 cows for America

Deedy, Carmen Agra
In June of 2002, a very unusual ceremony begins in a far-flung village in western Kenya.An American diplomat is surrounded by hundreds of Maasai people. A gift is about to be bestowed on the American men, women, and children, and he is there to accept it. The gift is as unsought and unexpected as it is extraordinary.A mere nine months have passed since the September 11 attacks, and hearts are raw. Tears flow freely from American and Maasai as these legendary warriors offer their gift to a grieving people half a world away.Word of the gift will travel news wires around the globe. Many will be profoundly touched, but for Americans, this selfless gesture will have deeper meaning still. For a heartsick nation, the gift of fourteen cows emerges from the choking dust and darkness as a soft light of hope_and friendship.Master storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy hits all the right notes in this elegant story of generosity that crosses boundaries, nations, and cultures. An afterword by Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah_the Maasai warrior at the center of the story_provides additional information about his tribe and their generous actions. Thomas Gonzalez_s stunning paintings, which are saturated with rich hues of oranges and browns, and blues and greens, capture the modest nobility of the Maasai people and the distinctive landscape of the African plain.


Reviewed: 2020-12-01

On September 11, 2001, Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah, a Maasai tribe member who was in the U.S. as a university student, was visiting New York and witnessed the destruction and loss of life that occurred that day. He was deeply grieved that a nation where he had received so much kindness could be so greatly wounded. When he returned to his home in Kenya, he shared the story with his people, who chose a unique way to offer healing to a people and a nation far away. Deedy's closing statement, "Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded, nor a people so small they cannot offer mighty comfort," is poetically beautiful and philosophically profound. Thomas Gonzalez has used pastel, colored pencil, and airbrush to create illustrations that add to the strength and beauty of this moving story. Parallel vertical elements in several illustrations bring to mind the Twin Towers. A full-page double spread is used for all illustrations. The art work is exquisite. A note at the end from Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah tells about his childhood, the wisdom shared with him by his elders, his experience in America, and the response of the Maasai to his account of America's 9-11 tragedy. One is left with the feeling that this world might have a chance at peace if only the wisdom of the Maasai and the tender warrior heart of Kimeli could permeate the minds and hearts of all people. I recommend this book for readers of all ages and for both school and public libraries. A website listed in the book gives additional information.

Reviewed: 2015-03-06

W/ Davila 3/6/15

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