My Great - grandmother's Gourd
Kessler, Christina / Walter Lyon Krudop (illus.);
Walter Lyon Krudop (illus.)
My Great - grandmother's Gourd.
New York: Orchard, 2000. $16.95,
Note: Relays a true story about generations of a family coming together in modern-day Africa.
Books and news reports on Sudan frequently focus on war, famine and forced labor systems. This book provides a different perspective. The story is
fashioned from actual events that took place in the North Kordafan area
known as "The Thirst Triangle." The main characters, young Fatima and her
grandmother, live in this dry land. When their village obtains a new and
very efficient water pump, the villagers abandon the tried and true method
of storing rainwater in the deep hollows of baobab trees. The lone
exception is grandmother. She prepares for the dry season as she always
has. She laboriously digs a trench around a giant baobab tree she calls,
"my grandmother's gourd." Fatima is embarrassed by grandmother's
old-fashioned ways but soon comes to her aid. Their hard work has a sweet
reward. When the village pump fails, great-grandmother's gourd becomes a
resource for the whole community.
This picture book succeeds on many levels. It is a tender story
about the strong bonds of love and faith between grandparent and
child. It is a cautionary tale that warns us not to depend too heavily on
new technology. It is a window into Sudanese life in a rural
setting. There is a wealth of detail one can glean about the land, dress,
occupations, cooperative labor systems, concepts of ownership and
language. Several Arabic words are skillfully woven into the text. An
excellent glossary provides definitions and pronunciations. One misstep
is the author's use of the word "hut." Shelter, house, home or the Arabic
word tukl are preferable because they avoid the negative connotations many
Americans associate with "hut." The illustrations are lovely. They
aptly reflect the people and the place. Recommended.
Reviewed by: Brenda Randolph, Africa Access
Subject: Sudan / Fiction / Grandmothers / Family / CABA Honor