(Book received for free for review from Kids Can Press.)
What a wonderful little book. Unfortunately I can't count it in my total for 2013 because it's a children's book. (In my end of the year count, I'm going to create a section to make note of these books I'm not including in the official count.)
This is the first children's book I've read since college. While in school, I worked in the library for our education students (teachers-to-be), and that was mostly kid lit. I was surprised to find out how good some childrens' books could be; I spent many shifts happily reading them.
Anyway, I was interested in One Hen because it was about a subject that's close to my heart: Microloans. I've posted about them a few times before, explaining how a $25 loan could make a world of difference for someone, and the repayment rate is nearly 100%, so there's nothing to lose by lending it. Kiva is the organization I use to lend through, and can strongly recommend it to anyone. I've made six loans through it so far, and all have been paid back (two are in progress on being paid back).
The story of One Hen explains how the whole system works from the borrower's end. A boy gets a tiny loan, just enough to buy one chicken. As weeks pass, his family eats some of the eggs (improving their diet), and he sells the rest. The loan is repaid, but he keeps selling eggs. Eventually he has enough for another hen, then another, then another. His family's diet keeps improving, and his money keeps slowly increasing.
Eventually he makes enough money to be able to go back to school (he had to quit when his father died), then based on his 'business' and loan repayment history, he was able to get a "real" loan and start a chicken farm, and eventually he had the largest chicken farm in Ghana, Africa.
There are two elements of the book that were tied for "best part". 1) It's based on a true story, and included a photo of man the main character grew into. 2) I'm in love with the art. Not just bright, colorful, and full of character, it has elements of his dreams in the pictures, of symbolism, and other details. I'd happily hang any page up on my wall.
If I had a child, I would gleefully read this book to them. It's positive, it has a (real!) happy ending, and it teaches them to be better people. I'm going to keep my eye out for other books by Kids Can Press; they all look like they'd be as good as this one.