Monday, January 26, 2015

The Paper House by Lois Peterson

"Safiyah stodd ankle-deep in garbage near the top of the dump.   Below her lay the Kibera slum, a patchwork of rusty tin roofs.  A thick blanket of cloud and dirty smoke hid the concrete buildings and busy roads of nearby Nairobi. ... Safiyah sold most of the stuff she found at the dump.  It was the only way to make money for a pound of maize or some tea.  Sometimes a breadfruit for Cucu, her grandmother, who loved them so much."

The Paper House is another book that I found during our library stocktake. This is one of those slim volumes (108 pages) with a powerful story.

While Safiyah is digging through the rubbish dump she finds some magazines.  She takes them home and with her friend Pendo she pulls some of her favourite pictures out of the glossy magazines.  As Safiyah looks at these images she can see patterns and a picture forms in her mind.  The hut she shares with her beloved grandmother is draughty and cold.  Safiyah stuffs the cracks in the walls with torn pages from the magazines but then she has the idea of papering the outside.  Her friend borrows some scissors and glue from her school and Safiyah begins to create her murals but her work is suddenly interrupted when Cucu is taken ill and Safiyah moves into the hospital to stay by her side. 

You can read the full details of the plot here but this might spoil the story so I recommend reading this heart warming and evocative tale first.  There is an excellent little trailer here.  This blog will give you some teaching ideas and further links.

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