Tuesday, November 10, 2009

CYBILS 2009: 14 Cows for America

Every September I struggle to find an appropriate book to commemorate the World Trade Center tragedy. Finally I have found one that while it remembers that horrific day, it has an uplifting message of peace. Next September 11, I will share 14 Cows for America in THE PIT.

Written by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez 14 Cows for America is beautiful to read and to look at. The author collaborated with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah the Maasai tribesman whose story is told.

Kimeli was in New York City on that tragic day and he witnessed the events. He was a student in the United States and his gentle warrior heart felt compelled to do something to help. When he returned to his native Kenya and told the story of the attacks, and the devastation experienced by the people of the United States, his countrymen were also alarmed.

In the tradition of his people, Kimeli offers up the most sacred of things a man can own, his cow. As the warrior offered up his gift cow for blessing to give to the grieving people of the United States, 13 of his fellow warriors did the same and fourteen cows were blessed for the people of the United States.

The American ambassador and his wife were moved to tears when hundreds of Maasai stood in respectful silence as the Star Spangled Banner played during the presentation of the 14 cows. Holding with tradition, the fourteen cows could never be slaughtered and now with offspring, the herd totals 35.

This simple yet moving story is beautifully illustrated with scenes from Africa. The colorful artwork captures the splendor of the continent and the beauty of its people. This is an awesome book. Watch the cool trailer here.

Mary Lee interviewed Thomas Gonzalez at A Year of Reading.
Author James Preller interviewed Carmen Agra Deedy.

Other reviews at:
5 Minutes for Books
Picture Book of the Day
A Fuse #8 Production
The Reading Tub


  1. Yes, you are right. It is the perfect book to commemorate 9/11. I always have teachers asking about books for this. I must add this to my wishlist.

  2. This book looks beautiful. Thank you!

  3. Great book. Note that I interviewed the author, Carmen Deedy, at this link:

  4. It was so cool when I shared this book with my class and one girl noticed the twin towers images in the pictures -- sometimes two spears or two giraffe necks, but a hint of the twin towers in almost every picture. The illustrator did that on purpose.