Shoveller's (Ryan's great-uncle) text-heavy narrative relays the inspiring story of a Canadian boy's efforts to build a well in a Ugandan villageâ€"and how that campaign spawned additional successful ventures (see Children's Bookshelf, Oct. 19). In 1998, Ryan learned from his first-grade teacher about the lack of safe drinking water in many parts of the world and performed chores to raise the $70 that his teacher told him would finance a well to supply an African village with clean water. When the people at WaterCan (who help provide safe water in poor countries), however, told Ryan that his $70 would only purchase a hand pump for a well, the determined boy stepped up his efforts and inspired an entire community to help raise the full $2,000 necessary. Soon thereafter, Ryan's teacher matched up her students with pen pals in Uganda. Here, the narrative shifts to Jimmy, Ryan's pen pal from the village where Ryan's well would be built. Ryan and Jimmy eventually met in 2000, when Ryan and his parents traveled to Uganda for the well's ceremonial opening. The overwrought, workmanlike text may be off-putting to some readers ("There's an interesting picture of this day in school in which Ryan's blond head pops up in the middle of a sea of studious black faces," reads a passage near the aforementioned photo). Yet the book's triumphant can-do message will keep most turning the pages. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)[Page 59]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Gr 3-6 When Ryan Hreljac's first-grade teacher told his class about countries where people did not have access to clean drinking water, the boy became determined to change things. This account follows his efforts from what began as one child committed to building one well, and grew over several years into an international network of fundraising, educating, and well-drilling that extended far beyond anyone's expectations. Ryan's endeavors also brought him into contact with Akana Jimmy, a youngster from Agweo Village, Uganda, the location of the first well. In 2000, Ryan went to Uganda, and the two boys met for the first time. Through their friendship and correspondence, readers will gain insight into a world in which children face unimaginable hardships. In the fall of 2002, rebel forces abducted Jimmy, and though he escaped, his life was placed in great danger. The narrative then details the Hreljacs' laborious but successful efforts to bring him to Canada. Clearly written and illustrated with full-color family photographs set against colorful backgrounds, this story is both personal and representative of the many people living in developing countries, the individuals working against all odds to help them, and the power of young people to make a difference. A great choice for booktalking or small-group sharing and discussion, with many possible connections, from social and economic to geographic and political. Genevieve Gallagher, Murray Elementary School, Charlottesville, VA[Page 164]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.