By Joni Kabana
A picture is said to be worth a thousand words, but the pictures in Joni Kabana’s new book Torina’s World, A Child’s Life in Madagascar is worth far more than words. Kabana treats her readers to a child’s view of her life and culture through the eye of a camera.
Meet Torina, an eight year old Malagasy girl from the island country called Madagascar. Torina shares with the audience different aspects of her life through text and photographs under the headings: We Live!, We Grow!, and We Feel!.
By reading and exploring this book, children have the unique opportunity to view and examine life in a developing country. Simple sentences and questions on each page of text provoke children to compare and contrast their lives with that of Torina. Statements are fashioned in a way that when read, the similarities between Torina’s world and that of a Western child’s are very obvious.
Only when coupled with the photographs do children see the various differences. For example, one page states “We wash our clothes together. How do you wash your clothes?” A child may realize that just like Torina, her clothes need to be washed and that maybe she helps her mother with that chore. It is only when the picture is viewed that the child realizes washing her clothes in a washing machine is very different from washing clothes in Madagascar.
When read to a four and six year-old audience, the children were fascinated by the story. They enjoyed the way the book involved them, eagerly answering each question and pointing out the differences they saw in the pictures. Most importantly, the children asked questions about what they were seeing.
While Torina’s World, A Child’s Life in Madagascar is intended for children, adults can appreciate this book as well. The remarkable photography and the detailed glimpse into the “humanity” of the village brings to life this foreign world. A short discussion at the end of the book gives the reader general information regarding Madagascar. Included are the size and location of the island, the population, and a brief look at the varied beliefs held by the Malagasy people.
This is a beautiful book whose depth goes beyond the simplicity of its text. Torina’s World, A Child’s Life in Madagascar opens up the world to children in a manner that is non-threatening and exciting. This book belongs in the library of any child whose parents’ hope for them is to have an appreciation for the world around them, as well as that beyond the borders of their own country and culture.
This review was submitted by Kristin Pace. Kristin is a wife and mother and founder of The Book-Trotter. She wrote her first review 20 years ago and has been reading and loving books ever since.