Listen to the Wind by Greg Mortenson and Susan Roth. (Picture Book #19 for the Read to Me Picture Book Challenge)
Many of you may have read the NY #1 Bestseller Three Cups of Tea –One Man’s Mission to promote Peace –One school at a time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. In 2009 they brought out a Picture Book version of the events – Listen to the Wind – for children aged 4-9, by Greg Mortenson and Susan Roth.
With simple, informative text and colourful pictures, the book tells the story of “Dr. Greg”. After failing to reach the summit of Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second highest mountain, he stumbles into the village of Korphe, lost and sick. Told from the perspective of the village children, we learn that during his convalescence, Dr Greg observes that the children of the village didn’t have a full time teacher and often learn outside, drawing their lessons in the earth with a stick. He also noticed the deep desire they had to learn. Mortenson was grateful for the kindness they showed him during his stay, and promised the villagers that he would come back and build them a school. The first part of Listen to the Wind tells the story of Dr Greg’s 1st return visit and of the challenges he and the villagers faced as they built that first school. The second part of the book is a scrapbook of actual photographs of the people and events surrounding this incredible undertaking.
Susan Roth’s colourful, bold collages are made of scrap paper, material, and actual fibres from Pakistan, thus bringing a tactile quality to the book that young children will enjoy. There is also an Artists’ Note in the back, where Roth explains how she was inspired by the Pakistanis ability to reuse and recycle everything.
This book is a great way to introduce young readers to global humanitarian issues, such as education and literacy, in terms that are easy to understand. The story is utterly amazing, but the compelling message is that every individual can make a difference in the world, even by donating a few pennies each week.
As of 2010, over 145 schools have been built in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mortenson has dedicated his life to promoting education, especially for girls, in this poverty stricken and war torn region.
NB There is also a Young Adult version of Three Cups of Tea.