14 Cows for America
The text is simple and a great way to introduce the topic to younger children, who may have heard
about the two towers but are not ready for too many details.
While there have been many books detailing the events of that day, such as Kalman's Fireboat, Aubin's The Survivor Tree, and Brown's American is Under Attack, it is interesting to get a more global perspective. Many schools study 9/11, especially since students today were almost all born after the event.
Here is a story that crosses vast oceans and glaringly different cultures, to warm the hearts of American readers.
14 Cows for America, by Carmen Agra Deedy, is a beautiful story of comfort and healing during our country's darkest hour. It is the story of Kimeli Naiyoma of the Maasai people of Kenya, who witnessed the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Kimeli was studying medicine in America when he saw the towers fall. He carried the sorrow of that tragic day back to his village the following year, and his people, the fierce but compassionate Maasai, vowed to show kindness to the heartbroken Americans.
The question was, what could this modest people give to so great a country as the United States? The answer: Cows! The Maasai could offer their sacred cows, which were, to them, a symbol of life itself.
14 Cows is an unforgettable book. Award-winning illustrator Thomas Gonzalez uses earth-colors of brown and red to animate his stunningly-realistic drawings and make readers feel they have landed right in the middle of Kimeli's Kenyan village. Every page of art is breathtaking in its own right, from the achingly-beautiful African landscapes to several close-ups of the Maasai's wide brown eyes, shimmering with compassion.
Readers will absolutely love this book. The Maasai and their cows may not have made history in the sense that Americans know it, but this simple act of kindness will live on for generations. Because as Deedy writes in her book, "There is no people so small they cannot offer a mighty comfort."