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[Monday Reading] Award-winning Picturebooks that Feature Hunting (Geraghty’s “The Hunter”), Grieving (Czekely’s “Rahui”), and Finding Faith “Deep in the Sahara”


Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Award Winning Books Reading Challenge for 2015 (#AWBRead2015)! It’s that time of the year to set new reading goals for the rest of the year.


Here is the sign up page and the July-August linky if you already have reviews up. One randomly-selected participant would receive a copy of The Dark Wild by Piers Torday courtesy of Pansing Books.


Click here to view my announcement post to learn more details.


These three award-winning picturebooks feature characters from Africa, New Zealand, and Mauritania West Africa. The stories take us through hunting, grieving, and discovering the comforting sense of prayer.

IMG_2693The Hunter

Written and Illustrated by: Paul Geraghty
Published byAndersen Press, 1994; Paperback Edition published in 2011
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I believe it was Elisabeth Ellington from The Dirigible Plum who blogged about The Hunter by Paul Geraghty. I am glad to have found it in our public library.

This is a story about a young girl named Jamina who accompanied her grandfather one early morning to collect honey.


Jamina was looking forward to seeing elephants while they were doing their morning errands but her grandfather stated that there are fewer elephants since the hunters and poachers came. At the mention of “hunter” Jamina’s eyes lit up as she declared “I’m going to be a hunter.” Lost in her make-believe world, she played and stalked wild creatures until she found herself hopelessly lost in the middle of the African forest, away from her grandfather and her home.


It was then that she heard the whimpering cries of a baby elephant whose mother was shot by hunters. Like Jamina, this baby elephant lost its herd. I like the picture above as the overcast skies and the storm all contributed to that sense of isolation and gloom.


I was in awe of the illustrations though I am not a huge fan of repeating artwork (one or two poses of the young girl seemed to be repeated in a few pages). Despite this, Geraghty was able to fully capture the despair, grief, and the awakening of this young girl as to what being a hunter really means.


Written by: Chris Szekely Illustrated by: Malcolm Ross
Published byHuia, 2011
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I was glad to find this picture book about Maoris in our library – I admit to not being as exposed to titles from New Zealand as I should be. Rāhui begins with lighthearted images of children having fun, visiting family, playing in the bush, catching eels, and swimming in the beach.


This book has spare text which has only around one or two lines on the left hand page and full-colour art in the right hand page:


Then the mood shifts suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, as the main character noted that one day as they were swimming, their cousin Thomas went missing. It was the boy’s father who found Thomas’ drowned body. The images were not particularly graphic but it was the abruptness that caught me – the art is also quite unusual – with its vivid expressions of bright colour and smudges, with no discernible facial features or expressions.


The family also imposed a rāhui on the beach: the children are not allowed to play, fish, or swim for a period of time. The Glossary of Terms found at the end of the book reveals that a tangi is a “ceremony for mourning someone who has died, funeral and burial ceremony” and that a rāhui is “a ritual prohibition put on a place, part of a river or foreshore or on certain resources.” 


Despite the rapid shift, it was also heartening how the grief was captured so eloquently in images as well as the eventual release and letting go. The Maori words (see above) also provided that resonance to the wailing and the loss experienced – rendering a deep authenticity to the book.

IMG_2699Deep In The Sahara

Written by: Kelly Cunnane Illustrated by: Hoda Hadadi
Published by: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2013
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I have been seeing this beautiful picturebook shared by quite a few of the Monday reading enthusiasts – and allow me to just echo their sentiments about this book being beautifully crafted. There is a comforting pattern in the format of the text even as the author varies the lyrical sentiments evoked (see examples below):

“More than all the stars in a desert sky,

you want a malafa so you can be beautiful too.”


And my favourite:

More than all the mint leaves sold in the market, 

you want a malafa so you can be like a long-ago queen too.


As this young girl imagines how she would look like with the malafa draped over her young body, she provides a variety of reasons to parents, older sister, grandmother (and pretty poetic reasons at that, this girl would be an effective debater) as to why she should wear this soft beautiful robe. When it finally dawned on her what the malafa is for, her mother held her face, and knew that it was time.


More than the beautiful text and the equally exquisite illustrations, I loved the Author’s Note detailing the inspiration behind the making of this picturebook:

I went to Mauritania believing that the wearing of the veil was repressive to women, but the Mauritanians’ relaxed and colorful expression of their faith and culture offered a surprisingly positive view, which I wanted to share by writing this book.

I taught a professional development course for teachers in Bahrain back in 2009, and the women’s sense of pride in their traditional clothing also humbled me, and made me rethink unfounded assumptions that are superimposed on another’s cultural reality. This is a lovely read. Find it.

Currently Reading…

I was able to finish reading the two books I set out to read last week:

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson – in time for our GatheringReaders book club yesterday and I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson which broke my heart again and again – I will have to write a review of this one. Probably one of my best discoveries this year.

For this week, I plan to read the following books:


These two graphic novels are way long overdue in our public library but I really have to read them first before I return them: The Baby-sitters Club: Kristy’s Great Idea based on the novel by Ann M. Martin and adapted by Raina Telgemeier, Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson.


I am currently teaching a higher-degree course “Using Multicultural Middle Grade/ Young Adult/ Graphic Novels to Promote Socio-Emotional Learning” and two of my students will be booktalking these novels this week. I will see how much I would be able to read of these two: Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye and Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine.


Rahui: Winner of New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards

Deep in the Sahara: WINNER – Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year; Children’s Book Committee at Bank Street College Children’s Book of the Year – SELECTION 2014

The Hunter: WINNER – Earthworm Friends of the Earth Award; Shortlisted – Kate Greenaway Medal for Illustration

#AWBRead2015 Update: 68-70 (35)

9 comments on “[Monday Reading] Award-winning Picturebooks that Feature Hunting (Geraghty’s “The Hunter”), Grieving (Czekely’s “Rahui”), and Finding Faith “Deep in the Sahara”

  1. There is a great video interview of Hoda Hadadi (illustrator of Deep in the Sahara). I have shared it with my older students when we learn about collage.


  2. Oh, Habibi is a good one. I’ll have to take a look at Deep in the Sahara– ever since I saw a woman mowing a lawn wearing a chador, I’ve struggled with the idea that women can wear what they want, but wonder if in some cases they are forced to wear garments that can be dangerous for some purposes. I also wonder how long my students will wear traditional clothing after they leave their families. Tough to get my mind around, but I do try.


  3. Thanks for the beautiful picture books, Myra. I hope I can find them at the library. I do need to read I’ll Give You The Sun, have put it off too long!


  4. Kay Mcgriff

    I loved seeing The Hunter. Our National Geographic came this week, and this issue’s cover story was on elephants and how their numbers are being decimated by poachers. Seeing the Babysitters title (adapted as a graphic novel by Raina!) brought back memories. My daughter loved that series and read most of them.


  5. Rahui seems fascinating and heartbreaking. I’m so glad when more and more cultures are being represented in picture books.


  6. I haven’t read Habibi or Mockingbird (our school copy of the latter has gone missing) I enjoyed The Mark of the Dragonfly and I’ll Give you the Sun. I adore Deep in the Sahara. Roller Girl will be worth the library fine!


  7. I just finished Roller Girl last night and thought it was stupendous! I hope you enjoy it!


  8. Ricki Ginsberg

    Goodness. You’ve been busy! I agree with you that I want to dip into more titles from New Zealand. I don’t read enough international literature. Thanks for sharing all of these beautiful book pictures!


  9. I wish I could take your class! Sounds awesome.


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