A Good Trade by Alma Fullerton

A Good Trade

Alma Fullerton, Author

Karen Patkau, Illustrator

Pajama Press, Fiction, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Ugandan children, Poverty, Traveling for water, War

Opening: “In a small Ugandan garden, a single poppy blooms white in a sea of green. On a mat inside his hut, Kato wakes at the break of dawn.”

Book Jacket Synopsis: Kato wakes early to begin his morning routine, a long barefoot trek beyond village gates through grasses, down a steep hill, and along fields dotted with cattle and guarded by soldiers. His destination is the village well, where he will pump a day’s supply of water into two jerry cans. Like very day, Kato lets the water splash over his hot tired feet before carrying his heavy load back home, where the day’s chores await him. But this is no ordinary day. The aid-worker’s truck has come, and in the back is something so special the little boy rushes home to look for something to repay the aid-worker for this unexpected gift for his village.

Why I like this book:

Alma Fullerton’s text is rich, spare and beautifully crafted. Her narrative is strong and lyrical as she shares Kato’s daily trip to get drinking water for his family. He is barefoot like the other children in his village. The water he collects is essential for cooking, drinking and bathing.

When Kato spies the aid worker’s truck that brings shoes to the village children, he hurries home with his water cans. He finds a white poppy and returns to give it to the aid worker as his expression of gratitude for her generous gift.

This important book shows children how difficult life can be for kids living in war-torn areas and in drought. For many children school isn’t an option because  their days are filled with chores. Fullerton’s story raises cultural awareness for the global plight of children like Kato. Young readers will appreciate the things they take for granted, like running tap water, shoes and transportation.  It addresses tough issues in a hopeful and age-appropriate manner and is an excellent read-aloud for the classroom.

Karen Patkau’s digitally rendered illustrations are colorful and lush. They work beautifully with the text and illuminate the message in the story.

Resources: This is an important story that will generate lively classroom discussions  about how difficult life can be for children around the world.  Ask children about how they would feel if they didn’t have a pair of shoes? Would they be able to walk barefoot every day to collect water from a well? How would they bath or wash clothing?  What will they eat? This is a great exercise in empathy.

Alma Fullerton is the award-winning author of the picture books A Good Trade, Community Soup and In a Cloud of Dust, When the Rain Comes. Check out my review of her most recent picture book, Hand Over Hand.  Visit Fullerton at her website.

Every Friday authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

36 thoughts on “A Good Trade by Alma Fullerton

  1. I haven’t seen this one yet & definitely want to read it! Pajama Press publishes some wonderful books – thanks for showcasing this one. With so much news about people doing without water in our own country due to the recent hurricanes, it’s a perfect opportunity to discuss the need for clean drinking water in so many parts of the world.


  2. It sounds lovely! A few years ago, I learned that a Starbucks barista from Uganda was returning to visit his village to distribute gently worn shoes and clothing. My neighborhood collected, sorted, and washed dozens of pairs of children’s shoes and clothes for John Pierre to take with him. The photos he later shared made me cry.
    We Americans are so blessed.


  3. I love Pajama Press books, and this selection seems especially timely and touching. Thank you for featuring it on PPBF so more of us can share and enjoy it!


  4. I love the art on the cover here. I am with Cathy, Pajama Press publications I always follow. We need more of these types of stories.


  5. This is definitely a story that all kids (and many adults!) should read! Many of us in our comfy North American lives don’t think enough about people who live impoverished lives. Beautiful choice for PPBF, Pat!


  6. This sounds like an important book to share with children, Patricia. It seems to tell the story with sensitivity and compassion, great things for children to learn. The titles of Alma’s other books appear to have similar themes. Thank you for letting me know about them.


  7. Excellent choice Patricia. I agree that this should be read by everyone, especially those not affected by war, famine, drought, and hurricanes. The world needs a lot more empathy. Thanks for featuring this book.


  8. Pingback: Children’s Books Heal calls A Good Trade an “important book” | Pajama Press

  9. Yeah, children are suffering so much deep in the villages, most of them don’t even go to school, because they have to stay and help around the house hold, or their parents cant afford to take them to school. So they grow up with no education, not because they chose it. I don’t know what the government is going to do to ensure every child gets an education. Because this UPE USE is definitely not working.


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