9/11 Gift: 14 COWS FOR AMERICA

The phone was ringing when I returned from a walk on that sunny day. It was my Dad, weeping as he told me about the first tower falling.

We didn't have a television so I ran to my neighbor's and watched in horror as the second tower fell. Later that day, like so many of us, I sought solace during a prayer vigil at church.

As we remember how we longed for comfort and community eight years ago, I'd like to offer my Fire Escape visitors the gift of 14 COWS FOR AMERICA, a new picture book by Carmen Agra Deedy and Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah.

Besty Bird reviewed the book recently on her School Library Journal blog, and provides a superb roundup of other coverage on the book, and Meghan Cox Gurdon encapsulated the story well at the Wall Street Journal:
As the tribe gathers under an acacia tree, Kimeli describes the horror that struck so far away: “With growing disbelief, men, women, and children listen. Buildings so tall they can touch the sky? Fires so hot they can melt iron?”

... The ­villagers request a visit from the American ambassador, who duly comes and is stunned to be met by hundreds of Maasai “in full tribal splendor,” with ­scarlet tunics and majestic beaded collars—and their unexpected gift (of 14 ­“sacred and healing” cows.)

The final pages show the grave face of a young tribesman. Reflected in his pupil we see the book’s only image of the burning Twin Towers; beside him we read (possibly through tears) the ­concluding words: “Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded, nor a people so small that they cannot offer mighty comfort.”
I've experienced the hospitality of the Maasai people firsthand (that's me to the left in the photo), so this book is especially dear.

Peachtree is offering three copies of 14 COWS FOR AMERICA as a gift of remembrance today. For the rest of the day and through this weekend, drop a comment below and we'll put your name in a hat to see who gets them. Here's the book trailer: