One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference
by Katie Smith Milway
illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
Kids Can Press, 2008
review copy compliments of the publisher
Based on the true story of Ghanian Kwabena Darko, ONE HEN tells the story of the difference that microfinancing can make to an individual, a family, a community, and ultimately, a country.
In the story, Kojo and his mother live in a community that pools its resources and allows the families to take turns borrowing the money for a project that will help them to make a profit before they pay back the loan. Kojo's mother uses her turn to buy a cart so she can carry more firewood to market. With a part of their profit, Kojo buys one hen. The hen provides them with eggs, but also generates more profit. Kojo buys more hens, realizes he needs to finish school to better run his business and eventually gets a scholarship to an agricultural college. When he returns from college, he expands his poultry business, providing jobs for the community and paying taxes that help his country.
ONE HEN is beautifully designed. The illustrations, by Eugenie Fernandes, are bold and colorful paintings. Each double page spread is one third or one half text on a rich (pun intended), luminous gold background. On each illustration is a line reminiscent of "The House That Jack Built":
This is Kojo.
This is the loan that Kojo gets.
This is the hen that Kojo buys with the loan he got.
These are the eggs that Kojo sells from the hen he bought.
The book includes information about the "Real Kojo," Kwabena Darko, and sections titled "What you can do to help?" and "Making changes in the world, on person, one family, one community at a time..." There is also a glossary of African and economics terms.
Teaching economics has always seemed abstract and irrelevant to 10 year-olds. I think all that will change this year when I use this book as the anchor of my economics unit.
One Hen was featured on the NPR story, Child's 'One Hen' Lays Microlending Success.
Be sure to check out the One Hen website.
The Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Picture Book of the Day.