Monday, July 18, 2011

Selavi, That is Life: A Haitian Story of Hope

Landowne, Y. (2004). Selavi, that is life: a Haitian story of hope. Hong Kong: Morris Printing.

This book is on the Notable Books for Children list and is also a 2005 Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee.

Exposition: Selavi, a little boy in Haiti whose family is taken at gunpoint, is left alone and homeless.  He sets out in search of a family and a home.  Selavi reaches Port-au-Prince and finds other children in a similar situation.
Conflict: The children live together under a tree, working during the day and scrounging for whatever food they can find.  In spite of their situation, they feel like they are a family and take care of each other. 
Rising Action: One day, the police chase the children away, telling them they will be arrested if they come back. 
Climax: Selavi wanders into a church, where the minister is talking about the congregation becoming a mighty river and helping others become strong.  Selavi tells them that he needs help.  The people in the church take Selavi in and help the other children.  They build a home for all of the homeless children. 
Falling Action: The children try to reach out to other homeless children by painting murals, letting them know that there is help for them.  Unfortunately, people painted over their murals and burned their home down.  They did not give up.
Resolution: A home was rebuilt for the homeless children in Haiti and a radio station was created to share their story and to help others.  The children there work together and help each other.  They also reach out to other homeless children.

The illustrations in the book do an excellent job of refinforcing the text.  For example, in the sunglasses of the policemen you see reflections of a boy with a broken heart and a home on fire, which reinforces what Selavi is experiencing.  The illustrations are sometimes drawn with details and other times look like abstract watercolors.  On each page, there are different aspects to the illustrations which cause the reader to pause and "read" the illustrations as well as the words on the page.

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