Picture Book Review: One Hen by Katie Smith Milway


One Hen by Katie Smith Milway

Age Range: 8 and up

Grade Level: 3 and up

Series: CitizenKid

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Kids Can Press, Ltd. (February 1, 2008)

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!)

Rating: 4 of 5 stars 

About the Book:

Inspired by true events, One Hen tells the story of Kojo, a boy from
Ghana who turns a small loan into a thriving farm and a livelihood for
many. After his father died, Kojo had to quit school to help his mother
collect firewood to sell at the market. When his mother receives a loan
from some village families, she gives a little money to her son. With
this tiny loan, Kojo buys a hen. A year later, Kojo has built up a flock
of 25 hens. With his earnings Kojo is able to return to school. Soon
Kojo’s farm grows to become the largest in the region. Kojo’s story is
inspired by the life of Kwabena Darko, who as a boy started a tiny
poultry farm just like Kojo’s, which later grew to be the largest in
Ghana, and one of the largest in west Africa. Kwabena also started a
trust that gives out small loans to people who cannot get a loan from a
bank. One Hen shows what happens when a little help makes a big
difference. This help comes in the form of a microloan, a lending system
for people in developing countries who have no collateral and no access
to conventional banking. Microloans have begun to receive more media
attention in recent years. In 2006 Muhammad Yunus, a Bangledeshi
economist who pioneered microloan banking, won the Nobel Peace Prize.The
final pages of One Hen explain the microloan system and include a list
of relevant organizations for children to explore.

Website | Amazon
| Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

Katie Smith Milway is a partner in Bridgespan’s Boston
office and a leader of the firm’s knowledge group. She brings to the job
a background in journalism, nonprofit management and strategy
consulting. Prior to joining Bridgespan she was a senior director and
founding publisher at Bain & Company, where she built and managed a
global team of editors and writers who guided the transformation of
Bain’s intellectual capital into external and internal publications.
Prior to joining Bain, Katie worked as a business journalist with The Wall Street Journal/Europe and Montreal Gazette, as a stringer for TIME
in Guatemala, and as a researcher/writer at Harvard’s Kennedy School.
She also served on the management team of nonprofit Food for the Hungry
International, coordinating programs in Africa and Latin America. She
was a delegate to the 1992 Earth Summit and has authored two books and
numerous articles on sustainable development and served as a resource
specialist to the Salzburg Global Seminar. Her 2008 Web site
www.onehen.org and children’s book, One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference, enlist children in the cause of microfinance.
graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Stanford University,
followed by a Masters in European Studies at the Free University of
Brussels on a Rotary scholarship. She graduated magna cum laude and was
selected to intern at the European Union’s development directorate. In
1993, she completed her MBA at the European Institute of Business
Administration, INSEAD. She speaks French, Spanish, Italian and
German, in addition to her native English.

About the Illustrator:

Eugenie Fernandes’ memories of her childhood are full of the
wonder of animals and nature. “I draw children in bare feet as much as I
can, because that’s me—frogs in my pocket and starfish in my hair!”
laughs Eugenie. “I love warm beaches and turquoise water,” she admits,
“and I’d rather do trees than buildings.” She looks back to her
childhood to locate the inspiration that led her to become the
successful writer and illustrator she is today. “My father, a comic-book
illustrator, had his studio overlooking Huntington Bay in Long Island. I
had my own desk right next to his, where I spent much of my youth.”

When Eugenie graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York
City, she began designing greeting cards and knocking on publishers’
doors with her portfolio. Before long she was submitting stories with
her art, which led to the publication of her first book.

In the 1980s, Eugenie wrote and illustrated a number of Little Golden
Books. One of her first books published in Canada was the acclaimed A Difficult Day
(Kids Can Press). Since then she has worked on several projects a year
and now lays claim to over 80 books, including several Annick titles.

Eugenie’s A Cat Adrift (2002), A Seal in the Family (1999) and A Cat in a Kayak (1998), are popular books about the adventures of Teelo the Cat. Her latest title with Annick Press, Birthday Suit (2012), written by Olive Senior, captures the warmth and color of the Caribbean.

Eugenie and her husband, Henry, also an illustrator, have two
children, Kim and Matthew. Eugenie, who has lived in places as diverse
as New York City and a thatch hut in the South Pacific, now lives beside
a lake in Ontario. She works in a glass studio surrounded by her
favorite things: trees, birds, brushes, water, frogs, sunshine, snow,
her family, and there is never a dull moment. Yesterday, there were
otters sliding along the ice and diving into the water to catch their
lunch while she ate her lunch snug and warm in a puddle of sunshine.

She can usually be found at home, except when she is off traveling to
warm destinations by the sea. In her free time, she paints … and has
been exploring the wild and wonderful world of non-objective painting,
“visual poetry.”

My Thoughts:

I really liked this book! This is a true story about a young boy that
borrows money from his mother to buy a hen. He sells the eggs from the
hen until he pays back the loan and buys another hen. And another. Soon
he is making enough money to buy the books and uniform required to
attend school. He has also provided his mother and himself with a
nutritious food source as well as an income. He eventually grows his
chicken farm to be one of the largest in the country and provides jobs
for many more people.

This is such an inspiring story. I love the determination and
self-control this boy has. He wants to improve his situation, and so he
works hard and eventually succeeds in doing so. He is a wonderful role
model for young children.  Thought his example, they can come to understand that they have the ability to
change their futures.

My only complaint about the book was length. It was really long for a
picture book and my kids wandered off near the end of the book. I loved
the story, but I think it would keep a child’s interest better if it
were shorter.


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  • Reply
    Adriana Garcia
    August 21, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    This reminds me of this program to help small businesses in third world countries. People loan them money and you get it back when they are able to make some money. With one small loan you can change someone's life. I love the idea of that. One small thing can shape someone.
    I notice that some picture books do tend to be on the long side. I don't know if it's supposed to be for older kids or not…?

    • Reply
      August 22, 2013 at 2:37 am

      Well it is for kids in grade 3 and older, so my kids are under the suggested age range. That probably had a lot to do with it. I think those small loans are an amazing and wonderful thing for the people that make use of them.

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