We are excited to join Kidlit Frenzy’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year. Right now we are having a “Buffet of Asian Literature: Makan! Let’s Eat! Kain Tayo!” theme until end of June. We are featuring either Asian-themed titles or food-related themes in books. This nonfiction title is about a small town in Pakistan called Korphe – definitely Asian-themed.
I own a copy of Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea but I have not had the chance to read it yet. And so I am very glad to find a picturebook version in our library with the gorgeous collage artwork by Susan L. Roth whom I admire greatly. I am familiar with Susan L. Roth’s art through her picturebook biography of the life of Dr. Sato in The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families. Once more I am awed by Roth’s painstaking attention to detail, and the meticulous care with which she crafted her designs. You can almost feel the texture of the clothing and the various paper she used to construct her art.
The story is told from the eyes of the children from Korphe, a small village in the mountains of Pakistan. Greg Morterson, a nurse from the United States, stumbled upon their town by accident as he was climbing their treacherous mountains and he lost his way and fell ill. When he got better, Greg talked to the wisest man in the village named Haji Ali. Greg sought Haji Ali’s advice as he wanted to do something special for the small town of Korphe and its people. Haji Ali gave him an enigmatic response: “Listen to the wind.” At that exact moment, Greg heard the voices of the children as they were having their lessons outside, writing with their sticks on the ground.
It took an entire year before Dr. Greg came back. This time, he brought tools, cement, lumber, and other materials required to build a school for the children. However, there was no bridge that would allow the transport of these much-needed supplies.
How they managed to overcome this problem, I shall leave for you to discover. There is an extensive backstory found at the end of the book called “A Korphe Scrapbook” which includes a number of photographs of the children from Korphe, as well as how the entire community rallied together to carry supplies by foot for eighteen miles to build schools in this area.
As I was researching about this picturebook, I did note that there are some issues surrounding the veracity of Mortenson’s claims. All these notwithstanding, the fact remains that there are now existing schools, roughly around 58 in all built in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The afterword also made mention of the librarian Julia Bergman and a local teacher named Hussein who are passionate about creating libraries for the schools.
The Artist’s Note written by Susan L. Roth was beautifully written as she talked about how she created the artwork in this story. She noted that she wanted to honor the resourcefulness of the people from Baltistan that she felt compelled to be more resourceful in the way that she crafted her visual pieces.
For teachers who wish to make use of this picturebook in the classroom, here is an extensive downloadable PDF guide created by Pearsonfoundation.org that demonstrates how this book can be linked to social studies lessons on diversity, geography, cultural diversity, civic-mindedness, and even math lessons which can be used in the classroom.
Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and Susan L. Roth with collages by Susan L. Roth. Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, 2009. Book borrowed from the NIE library. Book photos taken by me.
Reading Challenge Update: 129 (25)