I'm pleased to be a part of the virtual book tour for Amadi's Snowman, a picture book written by Katia Novet Saint-Lot and illustrated by Dimitrea Tokunbo (Tilbury House, 2008). There are a lot of reasons to recommend Amadi's Snowman: it's about the ways reading can show us the world; it's set in a part of the world (Nigeria) that few of us have seen, neatly making its own point; and, perhaps most importantly, it appeals to kids who are themselves learning to read or read fluently.
My own kids identified with Amadi, who is a very likeable character, despite the fact they've made many a snowman during winters in Michigan and Virginia. [I'll admit, I sympathized with the older boy Chima, whose reading Amadi interrupts!] A book Chima is reading, a book with a picture of a snowman in it, sparks Amadi's curiosity and convinces him that there is something to this reading business after all, even, or especially, for a boy who will grow up to a be an Igbo man of Nigeria.
I do think Amadi's Snowman would have benefited from some additional information about the Igbo and about Nigeria, if only a map locating the country on the African continent. Fortunately, both author and illustrator drew on their personal experience of Nigeria in the making of this book; and Tilbury House has provided discussion questions and classroom activities, as well as an extensive list of additional resources pertaining to the literacy issues in Amadi's Snowman in particular and Nigeria in general, on their website. I especially appreciated the list of picture book retellings of Nigerian folktales and other stories set in Nigeria.
This blog tour has also been a rich source of information about all of the above; check out author Katia Novet Saint-Lot's blog Scribbly Katia for more. And thank you to Katia and to the folks at Tilbury House for making a wonderful book!