Genre: Non fiction/Picture Book
Author: Greg Mortenson and Susan L. Roth
Illustrator: (Collages) Susan L. Roth
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (A division of Penguin Young Readers Group) 2009
I’ll admit it, I’m lazy : ) I like doing things that have more than one purpose or benefit, so when I come across books that not only tell an engaging story, teach an important moral, and share non fiction facts that fuel my student’s curiosity, I’m IN!
Listen to the Wind is the young reader’s version of humanitarian, Greg Mortenson’s, journey to promote world peace through building schools to educate children in rural Pakistan. I’ve already reviewed Greg’s own account of his experiences but this picture book tells Greg’s journey through the eyes of the children that he has helped in Korphe, a small village tucked away in the mountains of Pakistan.
The children tell of a stranger who was cold, sick, and hungry who came to their village seeking help and how the villagers embraced and cared for him until he was well. As the man grew stronger, they find out that his name is Greg and he is a nurse from the United States. He is so thankful to the villagers that he asks the wisest man of the village how he can show his appreciation. Haji Ali answers that Greg must, “listen to the wind” for his answer. Quite literally, Greg does and upon hearing the students practicing their lessons out on the cold, hard ground outside, he knew what he must do. Leaving the village of Korphe with the promise to be back to build a school for the students, he is not seen from or heard from for months. One day, Greg returns with supplies to fulfill his promise. Months pass and a bridge is built and finally the time has come to begin construction. All the able-bodied villagers help, even the children, and their new school rises from the ground. The final image in the story is Hussein, a local teacher, leading the students in a lesson in their new school.
The highly textured collages throughout the story are enough to make my fingers itch to create and would surely be enough to inspire students to recreate a scene in the book. I especially appreciate the extra thought and care put into creating this book to share Greg’s story with a younger audience. I could easily see that younger children may fail to make the connection between the collage illustrations and the real live children who lived this tale so the compendium at the conclusion of the book, which serves as a scrapbook for the story, was a thoughtful addition. The text in the story has a beautiful simplicity to it, truly seeming to be written in the words of the children. I love that the focus on the text is to convey the story happening in the collages rather than tie up the reader with elaborate language. Overall, it is a delightful and soulful book that acts as a entry point into a meaningful conversation about the differences and similarities of people throughout the world and our own responsibilities to the citizens of our global village.