"Keep working on a plan. Make no little plans. Make the biggest you can think of, and spend the rest of your life carrying it out." Harry S. Truman

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Hello Everyone,

Today is another special day, as we return to Nigeria, but this time, to Amadi's hometown of Enugu, were I lived for over three years, and were I wrote Amadi's Snowman.

But first, we have a review and a give-away at On My Bookshelf. Visit for a chance to win a copy of Amadi's Snowman.


We now go to the British School of Enugu, which happens to be the school that my daughter attended while we lived in Nigeria. At the time, they had 50 children in a small three-room house with one bathroom and a tiny kitchen that the headmistress also used as her office. There was a small garden at the back with a few games and an old set of swings.

The school has since moved to a nicer location and we see here the year 5 class, which is the equivalent of the fourth grade in the American system (the children are between 9 and 10) as they discover Amadi's Snowman.

I was able to speak on the phone with their teacher, last night, and when I asked her what the children's reaction to the book was, she reported that they were extremely intrigued by the title and the cover : What could an Igbo boy and a snowman be doing together in a setting that was so
obviously Nigerian? She said that they liked the tension, and were very excited when Amadi discovers the book waiting for him at home, in the end. They were happy for him.

Mrs. Offiah also mentioned that the book offered a wonderful opportunity for the children to discuss and appreciate how lucky they are to be able to go to school and get an education.

Unfortunately, not all the drawings reached me on time. But I have two, showing the itinerary followed by Amadi, during this special day.

And look at that beautiful snowman !

The children had questions for me and for the illustrator. Unfortunately, I was not able to reach Dimitrea Tokunbo on such short notice. But I can answer a few of the questions addressed to me:

1. What is your favorite Nigerian food?

I love the fried plantains, which is why I had Amadi's mother cook this particular dish for dinner. I can also share with you that my daughter Kora, who was 7 months when we arrived in Enugu, and was almost four when we left, absolutely LOVED pounded yam, and she knew how to eat it the right way, too, making a little ball with her fingers, dipping it in the sauce, and eating it up from the wrist up. I preferred to look the other way, honestly, because where I come from, children are scolded for eating with their fingers. We are to use a fork and a knife, as you know. Of course, we are now in India, where people also eat with their right hand, so I have come up with a rule : at home, we eat with a fork and a knife; outside of home, well, I try and go with the flow...

2. Are you coming to visit our school?

Thank you for asking. I feel that in a way, thanks to my book, we have just connected and spent a little time together. Nigeria is not exactly next door for us. But I often think that I should go back to Enugu with Kora, some day. She loved it, there, and it would probably mean a lot to her if she could visit the place where she spent so much time running around and chasing lizards, just like Amadi. Maybe some day...

3. Are other children in other parts of the world excited and/or interested to see an Igbo boy and to learn about Nigeria and Amadi's culture?

If you haven't already, go back one day and read yesterday's post with Florin, Aisha and Shali's letter to Amadi. And now that you've also seen the drawings and pictures of the children in India, the US and Haiti (as well as all the other pictures of children around the world) you know that Amadi has been traveling quite a bit. So, the answer to your question is a resounding YES. And I am, myself, excited to know that this tour has offered you a glimpse into the lives of children in other parts of the world. It is all about creating bridges so we can better understand each other.

Thank you for these great questions.

Tomorrow, Mrs. Offiah is taking the whole class to the UNICEF office in Enugu, so they can access a computer and the Internet and see themselves and their work featured in our tour. I have asked them to take pictures and to send them to me, so I can post them later.

In the meantime, I want to thank all the children of the British School of Enugu for their participation. Thank you also to their teacher, Mrs. Irene Offiah, and to the school's headmistress, Mrs. Isobel Ndupuechi. And finally, thank you so much to my friend Dr. Theresa Madubuko for running around to deliver the book, the drawings, and generally making sure that things got done. Finally, thank you to M. Saaondo Anom, at the UNICEF office, for his continued support, and to M. Paul Chime and Mrs. Aranotu. It takes that many people, when infrastructures and communications are not the best, but the children of Enugu are partaking in our celebration, today, and this is another proof that where there is a will, there usually is a way...


"A book is a part of life, a manifestation of life, just as much as a tree, or a horse or a star. It obeys its own rhytms, its own laws, whether it be a novel, a play or a diary. The deep, hidden rhythm of life is always there -- that of the pulse, the heart beat." Henry Miller

Tomorrow, you'll find a photo essay by yours truly at Bri Meets Books, an interview with Amadi's Snowman's illustrator, Dimitrea Tokunbo, at The Well Read Child, and a story inspired by Amadi written and illustrated by a child at the Vidyaranya High School, in Hyderabad. See you then...


Lisa Schroeder said...

Hi Katia - Just wanted to say congratulations on the great write-up in the Publisher's Weekly Children's bookshelf. Yay!!!


Katia said...

Thank you, Lisa. I discovered it myself this morning. Nice way to start the day. The almost non-stop work for the past two months is paying off in the nicest way. And I'm so grateful for the support from all my friends, too. Thanks for stopping by.