Did you know some people across the globe can’t afford to go to school? We as Americans are fortunate because we can go to school and get an education. The book, “Neema’s Reason to Smile,” by Patricia Newman and illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini (Lightswitch Learning), is about a girl who lives in Kenya. Each day, Neema walks around town balancing a basket of fruit on her head trying to sell fruit to people around the village. With the money she earns, she puts it into a dream basket hoping she can afford to go to the government school in the town. Neema thinks that the only school she can attend is the government school. One day, she encounters a girl wearing a uniform. She follows her, and finds out about a different school where Neema is able to enroll. She was able to realize her dream and attend a better school. Neema realized that something you want so bad is worth waiting for. A theme from the book is if you want something, you have to work hard for it.
We think the illustrations are incredible. They will help the reader deeply visualize every aspect of the book clearly. The author also used repetition to show key points throughout the book. For example, everyone in the village kept saying to Neema, "Do you want to grow up like me?," basically warning her to get a good education. One of our favorite quotes is, “The heart of the lion beats inside you.” This quote means that a lion that can very strong, but Neema is even stronger.
For the past three years, the graduating class at our school, Chatterton School in Merrick, has continued to support a boy named Reagan who attends Jambo Jipya School in Kenya, the school this book is based on. We help raise money for Reagan to be able to attend school and get the supplies he needs each year. We, as the class of 2019, are extremely excited to raise money for the school and Reagan this year. We hope that we can reach our goal of raising $350, if not exceed it. By raising money for Reagan, we have learned to always be grateful and appreciative for what we have because others are not as lucky. The sixth-grade class at Chatterton hopes to make a difference for the students of Jambo Jipya.