Monday, November 14, 2016

The Banana-Leaf Ball - a bookwrap


The Banana-Leaf Ball
How Play Can Change the World

Authored by Katie Smith Milway
Illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Ages 8-12
This title will be released on April 4, 2017 

Unwrapping some illustrations to enjoy...

About the book...

Deo Rukundo, an East African boy is forced to flee his home because of a war in his country.  He ends up separated from his family and keeps running deep into the forest for safety.  After many weeks where he lives on dew drops, wild fruits and leaves he finds his way to a refugee camp in Northwest Tanzania.  Frightened, homesick and alone, he prays for the well-being of the rest of his family.

With little resources in the  refugee camp bullies emerge and vandalize those living there.  They steal and intimidate everyone and they especially target Deo.  Remy the gang leader is menacing and poses threats to all those he encounters.

One day a coach arrives and gathers up the children to play a game of soccer.  Deo used to play soccer back in his home village. He made his own soccer ball out of dried banana leaves and he is a very good player.  He hesitates about joining in the game because of Remy but his excitement overcomes him and he touts his excellent soccer skills in front of the coach.  Very impressed, the coach makes Deo captain of the "shirts" team.   As the game progresses brand new feelings of comradery and acceptance emerge from the players as they work together as a team to score that winning goal.  The kids start to laugh, forget their worries and  relax.  They area transformed into" kids" once again. Not only do they enjoy the present game that they are immersed in but they also enjoy each other.  

"Ball by ball, practice by practice, children who were once afraid of each other laugh together."

In the following days the kids gather at Deo's house and he teaches them his soccer moves and how to make a ball out of dried banana leaves.  Most importantly they open up to each other about their feelings and share their experiences both before refugee camp and  the life they are living now.  They begin to have a sense of belonging and friendship making life away from their familiar homes and beloved families much more bearable.  

This book is based upon a true story.  It is heartwarming and inspiring. It points out that truly frightening, seemingly hopeless situations can indeed be turned around into something positive and bearable for those caught in such tragic circumstances.  

The book is a perfect catalyst to get kids talking about others less fortunate and the social justice issues that surround refugees all over the world.  It allows them to discuss the handling of bullies and the value of sports, teamwork, sharing with each other and acceptance.  

The back of the book includes a biography of the "real" Deo, and games that when played build trust and approval.  It suggests play-based nonprofit organizations that can be tapped into and supported so other kids can have an opportunity to be happy, carefree and enjoy playing games once again.   I highly recommend this book.

Storywraps rating:  5 Storywraps hugs!!!!!

About the author...

Katie Smith Milway, a native of Vancouver, B.C., has coordinated community development programs in Africa and Latin America for Food for the Hungry; consulted on village banking in Senegal with World Vision and was a delegate to the 1992 Earth Summit. She has written books and articles on sustainable development and is currently a partner at nonprofit consultancy The Bridgespan Group, based in Boston, Massachusetts.

Katie Smith Milway, winner of the 2009 Notable Book for a Global Society Award and the 2009 Children's Africana Book Award for One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference, is on a quest to bring world issues to elementary and middle school children. One Hen, set in Ghana, introduces kids to microfinance and the power of social entrepreneurship, and gave rise to the nonprofit organization One Hen, Inc. (, which offers downloadable resources for educators to teach financial literacy and giving back. 
Her 2010 book, The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough, is set in the Honduran hillsides and introduces kids to the concept of food security and how each of us, at any age, can combat global hunger ( And her latest book, Mimi's Village: And How Basic Health Care Transformed It, set in Kenya, connects kids' actions for global health to results in Africa. 
Prior to Bridgespan, Katie served as editorial director and founding publisher at Bain & Co. A graduate of Stanford University, the Free University of Brussels and INSEAD, Katie spent a decade working in and around more than a dozen countries in Africa and Latin America on sustainable development projects.

About the illustrator...

Shane Evans is the illustrator of many terrific picture books, including Nobody's Gonna Turn Me Round by Doreen Rappaport, Coretta Scott King / John Steptoe New Talent Award winner The Way a Door Closes by Hope Anita Smith, Take it to the Hoop Magic Johnson by Quincy Troupe, The Shark series by Jean Marzollo and When Gorilla Goes Walking by Nikki Grimes.Shane Evans is the illustrator of many terrific picture books, including Nobody's Gonna Turn Me Round by Doreen Rappaport, Coretta Scott King / John Steptoe New Talent Award winner The Way a Door Closes by Hope Anita Smith, Take it to the Hoop Magic Johnson by Quincy Troupe, The Shark series by Jean Marzollo and When Gorilla Goes Walking by Nikki Grimes. His accolades range from being honored by First Lady Laura Bush at the 2002 National Book Festival, to The Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and The Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Non-Fiction for Children.

A multi-talented artist and designer, Shane Evans has also worked as an illustrator, graphic designer and web designer for a diverse group of clients, including Nike, the FDA, the Kansas City Jazz Museum and the Kansas City International Jazz Festival.

Evans studied at Syracuse University School of Visual and Performing Arts. He graduated in 1993 and began traveling the world. His work is influenced by his travels to Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and throughout the United States.

Firmly believing in education and creative development for all people, Evans has produced a unique presentation designed to share his gift with all ages, cultures, ethnic groups and backgrounds. His presentations and workshops are specifically tailored to each audience and combine storytelling, art projects and slide presentations from his own work and world travel.

Shane Evans lives in Kansas City, Missouri. For more information, please visit

Follow me  

*Instagram: Storywraps
*Twitter: Storywraps@Storywraps1

I put hours of work finding the best kid's books to review for you each day.  If you enjoy visiting Storywraps and would like to donate something for my time and effort I would greatly appreciate it.
Go to the top of my blog on the right hand corner (above my photo) and please donate what you feel lead to give.  The amount you donate and the frequency you donate is totally up to you.  I thank you in advance for your support.  I love what I do and appreciate any amount that you may give so I can make our community even better.  Thanks a million! 

Read on and read always! 
It's a wrap.
Post a Comment