________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 2. . . .September 13, 2013


My Name Is Blessing.

Eric Walters. Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2013.
32 pp., hardcover & ebook, $19.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77049-301-8 (hc.), ISBN 978-0-88776-397-1 (ebook).

Grades 1-5 / Ages 6-10.

Review by Janice Foster.

**** /4



Muthini’s name was hard for him to bear. It meant suffering. That was what his mother had called him before she left. All because he was born with no fingers on his left hand and only two on his right.


Eric Walters is a well-known Canadian award-winning author of children's young adult literature. He also founded and runs the organization The Creation of Hope. My Name Is Blessing is a true story based on the life of a young Kenyan boy born with a disability. Walter’s book gives the reader insight into the desperate living conditions for the orphans in the Mbooni district of Kenya. It also provides the context for the founding of The Creation of Hope (www.creationofhope.com or ewalters@interlog.com), and the opportunities this organization offers to these children and their extended families.

internal art     Muthini and eight cousins live with their Nyanya, grandmother. With little food or money, life is hard, but Nyanya always gives the children her love. Muthini is often teased because of his missing fingers, and his grandmother realizes that she needs to make a difficult decision regarding this special little boy with his great heart and spirit. With hope for a future of opportunity for Muthini, Nyanya takes his hand, and together they set off on a long, tiring journey to an orphanage. There, Muthini receives the name Baraka, Blessing.

     This beautiful picture book, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes, tells the story of a young, disabled Kenyan boy in a hopeless situation. However, Eric Walters provides a narration of love which resonates throughout the story. Rather than focussing on his disability, Muthini’s grandmother recognizes her grandson’s strengths. Nyanya’s tough decision to bring her grandson to an orphanage leads to a bright future for Baraka. Born a boy named for suffering, his new name means ‘a blessing’.

      A five-page section featuring Baraka and his grandmother Grace is found at the end of the book. It provides background information, along with photos, and explains the author’s involvement and the subsequent founding of The Creation of Hope.

     My Name Is Blessing is more than an engaging and uplifting story. Through the narration, readers of all ages can easily connect to the real life story of an orphan and his plight in a rural district in Kenya. This book highlights global citizenship and the opportunity that an organization can provide for children, their extended families and communities in Kenya as an investment in the future.

Highly Recommended.

Janice Foster is a retired teacher and teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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