Chirchir Is Singing by Kelly Cunnane and Jude Daly

This beautiful tale begins, “High in Africa, wind like a cat paw wipes the sky clean,” drawing us in the poetic beat of a day in the life of a Kenyan family. Little Chirchir ‘s helpful attitude gets stifled with each attempt to do a chore with a family member–draw water from a well, build a fire, mud the floor, or gather potatoes.  After spilling the water, mismanaging the fire, and dropping the sack of potatoes, she gets sent on to yet another task. Finally frustrated, she finds fulfillment in caring for her baby brother as her contribution to the day’s work allows others to be more productive.  While unfolding a tale of a typical day in the life of a rural Kenyan family, the author treats the reader to delicious word pictures to discuss with children–“the winking silver circle of the well,” “Maize leaves clatter like rain,” and “clouds brush afternoon into evening.” The repetition of trying new tasks, being laughed at by the birds, and singing to her next assignment, draw the reader into Chirchir’s story while the folk-art illustrations emphasize the simplicity of life. A great read aloud for elementary school teachers and therapists, “Chirchir Is Singing” provides a lesson in poetry, storytelling or a day in the life of a Kenyan family.

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