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Author: Walters, Eric
Illustrator: Fernandes, Eugenie
Publisher: Tundra Books
Year Published: 2015
ISBN: 9781770496484
Grades: K-6

Today is the Day

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…today is no ordinary day at the orphanage.
Mutanu is a young girl, who along with other orphans, goes about her daily chores in Kenya.  Mutanu’s family can no longer care for her due to illness, death, age, and/or poverty.  Orphanages provide safe caring places for the ever increasing number of children in Africa.  Like most children in her country, Mutanu has no idea when her birthday is. (Many Kenyans believe that recording the birth of a child might bring bad luck and result in a child’s death.) On this date, one hundred and fifteen children celebrate their birthdays together on one special day together.
This is one of a series of books which Eric Walters has written to highlight hope for African children, including My Name is Blessing and Hope Springs. They are all biographical in nature. The author uses this book to tell about Creation of Hope, an organization located in rural Kenya which helps orphans throughout the region.  He provides background information to readers about why children are ending up in orphanages and the impact of poverty, illiteracy and superstition upon children’s lives.  The orphanage works to ensure each child receives a government-issued birth certificate, to acknowledge them as real people with the rights of citizenship. Beginning in 2011, the orphanage began holding a day to celebrate all their birthdays, giving each child a loot bag filled with gifts both practical and fun. Eugenie Fernandes’ illustrations are cheerful and colourful, symbolizing hope. The photographs at the back of the book make the story take on a greater appeal, as we get to meet the ‘real’ Mutanu and learn more about the story behind the story.
This is a useful book for teaching many social studies concepts.  It may be used for teaching concepts of uniqueness, belonging, celebrations and traditions and quality of life.  It offers a glimpse in the value of small acts of kindness which can inspire hope, as part of Character Education. It also provides a way for children to become engaged in global citizenship which has an impact, by making contributions to Creation of Hope

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