Eight-year-old Zulviya doesn't go to school. She doesn't spend her days running through the Afghani hills. She doesn't play. Instead, Zulviya, her sister, and her cousin--along with her mother and grandmother--"belong to the loom."
Each day, Zulviya and her family tie thousands of knots to earn their living. They tie the knots in intricate patterns and colors as they weave beautiful rugs by hand. It takes months to weave one rug. Little Zulviya spends her daylight hours sitting, tying wool threads, and suffering cramped muscles and sometimes bleeding fingers. She listens eagerly for the owl's call, the evening hooting from the owls that tells Zulviya her work is finished for the day.
No doubt about it--life is tough for Zulviya and her family. Waiting
for the Owl's Call tells the story of this young girl living in a small village in Afghanistan. As Zulviya sits and ties knots between her sister and cousin, her fingers follow the age-old rug patterns, but her imagination weaves her own colorful patterns--the green of the hills, the brown of walnuts, and the bright blue of the lake in summer.
Waiting for the Owl's Call is a poignant story. Readers are introduced to the traditions of Afghani culture in this 32-page, hardcover picture book for ages 6-10. It is a large book, about 9x11 inches in size. The artwork is superb and helps readers really "see" into Zulviya's everyday life. I was happy to learn that Waiting
for the Owl's Call is the third book in Sleeping Bear Press's new imprint, Tales
of the World. Each book in the series features young characters from diverse cultures around the world. The other current books focus on Japan and Africa.
There is nothing in Waiting for the Owl's Call that I would hesitate to share with my children or grandchildren. This look into one segment of Afghani life would be a welcome addition to a unit study on diverse cultures. Since Afghanistan is in the headlines so much these days, this is an excellent way to go beyond what we read in the news and peek into a child's life in a small village. This book could also be a jumping-off point for further study into the global issue of child labor. The author's note gives more insight into this sad subject. She provides contact information for an organization working to end illegal child labor in the carpet industry. It was an eye-opener for me.
An added bonus--and one of the reasons I love Sleeping Bear books--is the free pdf file available on the company's website: http://www.gale.cengage.com/pdf/TeachersGuides/WaitingForOwl.pdf. This guide is full of learning activities, such as discussion questions, "heartbeat" math, geography, art, writing activities, and even recipes from Afghanistan. A parent can get a lot of mileage from one book this way. I appreciate the extra effort from the publisher in order to make such a delightful "unit study" available to teachers and homeschooling parents.
I definitely recommend this delightful book for your homeschool. I would also recommend checking out the other titles from the Tales of the World series.