Chirchir Is Singing

by Kelly Cunnane

Publishers Weekly Cunnane returns to the Kenyan setting of her 2006 picture book, For You Are a Kenyan Child, in a you're-too-small tale given depth by lyrical prose ("High in Africa, wind like a cat paw wipes the sky clean"). Chirchir tries but fails to help her elders and is sent away time after time. "Little one, this work is not for you," says Mama after Chirchir drops the well bucket. "Go help Kogo with the fire." Not until Chirchir finds her baby brother, Kip-rop, crying untended does she discover a task she can do as well as the grownups. In an afterword, Cunnane explains that Chirchir is a member of the Kalenjin tribe; the story contains a great deal of information about Kalenjin life, language, customs, and Kenyan flora and fauna ("Warblers and cuckoos swing in the bottlebrush tree"). Daly's (Sivu's Six Wishes) softly shaded acrylics have much to teach, too. When Chirchir helps her grandmother build a fire, roosters peck on the hut's floor, but a radio sits on the table. Images of security, dependability, and plenty offer a fresh picture of African life. Ages 3-7. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Set in rural Kenya, this picture book tells a universal story of a child who tries to help but messes up until she finds a way to make a difference. The moving free verse is illustrated with Daly's bright, folk-art-style acrylic paintings, which show the rural setting, with huts, cattle, and fields, along with warm, close-up scenes indoors. Chirchir runs to help Mama get water from the well ( Drop / plop / Wiggle it . . . jiggle it ), but the bucket's rope slips, the water splashes, Chirchir falls, and Mama tells her. Little one, this work is not for you. Chirchir runs into more trouble as she tries to help Big Sister spread a new floor and help Baba pack potatoes for market; again she hears the refrain tha. this work is not for you. Then Chirchir sings to her crying baby brother, makes him laugh, and discovers how she can help. The child's view and familiar experiences offer natural ways to introduce the particulars of daily life in Kenya.--Rochman, Haze. Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal K-Gr 3-Set in a rural Kenyan village joyfully portrayed by Daly's charming folk-style artwork, this is a story to which children everywhere will relate. Chirchir's name means "Born Quickly" in her native Kalenjin, but to American ears it sounds like the perfect word for her sunny disposition as she makes her way through the day. She wakes up and tells the rooster that she's going to help Mama today. Sweetly she sings as she helps her draw water from the well, "Drop,/plop/the bucket in./Wiggle it.jiggle it.Let it fill../Then hand over hand,/up comes/maji, maji-water!.But-Oh-ohh!/The rope slips,/water splashes,/Chirchir sprawls." Mama sends her to help someone else, but all of Chirchir's attempts end in disaster. As she becomes more discouraged, she becomes visibly grounded to the earth and no longer dances across the pages, and her songs grow quieter until finally her joy returns when she finds a job that is just right. Full of small details that capture the family's connection to nature and daily life in the beautiful highlands of the Great Rift Valley, the story takes precedence while celebrating another culture. The endpapers include a helpful author's note about Kenya's Kalenjin tribe and a glossary of Swahili/Kalenjin words. The winning combination of a delightful main character and gorgeous execution should earn Chirchir a place in most libraries.-Anna Haase Krueger, Antigo Public Library, WI (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.