My Rows and Piles of Coins – Book Review
My Rows and Piles of Coins by Tololwa M. Mollel illustrated by E. B. Lewis is a realistic fiction story from Tanzania. We re-visited this book today as part of the Kids Read the World – Africa series.
Do your children get pocket money? How do they spend it?
My Rows and Piles of Coins is about how a little boy wants to use his pocket money to buy himself a bicycle. It is a insightful little story that my son read in 3rd grade. Coincidently this was also the time when we started talking about money matters with him.
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About the author and illustrator of My Rows and Piles of Coins
Whenever my children and I read a book, we start off by reading a bit about the author and the illustrator. There are many reasons why I encourage this but the most important one is that I want my kids to see that there are ‘real people just like them’ who write these stories.
About the Author Tololwa M. Mollel:
Tololwa Mollel is an award winning writer with 16 books under his name. He grew up in a small town in Arusha, Tanzania and was inspired into story telling and writing by his grandfather and uncle.
In Tanzania, Mollel worked as a University lecturer, an author, a dramatist, an actor and a performer, with a love of story telling from a very young age. He has travelled all over the world, acting and performing with leading artists and musicians.
Mollel now lives in Canada and enjoys sharing his work at schools and libraries. He says: “I aim to provide a feast of words –written and spoken – for the eye, the ear and the mind; as well as for the creative imagination, and for performance.”
His books, which include award winning titles such as Rhinos for Lunch and Elephants for Supper, Big Boy, and My Rows and Piles of Coins have been published in Canada, the U.S., Australia, England and Tanzania where he was born. His work has been translated into various South African languages, into Korean, Spanish, Serbian, Norwegian and Finnish, and of course his native Kiswahili, Tanzania’s national language. You can read more about Tololwa M. Mollel in his biography
We read My Rows and Piles of Coins in grade 3 as part of our English syllabus.
About the illustrator – E. B. Lewis:
Earl Bradley Lewis, born in 1956, is an awarding winning American illustrator. He was inspired to be artist by his two uncles.
E.B. Lewis has illustrated more than fifty books for children, including Nikki Grimes‘ Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman (2003 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner); Alice Schertle‘s Down the Road (ALA Notable Book); Tolowa M. Mollel‘s My Rows and Piles of Coins (an ALA Notable Book and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book); Bat Boy and His Violin by Garvin Curtis (Coretta Scott King Honor Book) and Jacqueline Woodson’s The Other Side (2002 Notable Book for the Language Arts).
E. B Lewis paints with watercolors. His work is owned by numerous private collectors and sold by art galleries throughout the United States.
Read more about E.B. Lewis here.
Here are some other books by the author and illustrator:
My Rows and Piles of Coins – Book Review
In My Rows and Piles of Coins, a little boy Saruni saves his pocket money to buy a new bicycle. The story is told in first person by the child himself. We love stories where the children are the narrators!
Saruni wants to buy a bicycle. He gets ten-cents every Saturday from his mother, Yeyo for helping her with selling at the market. He had been learning to ride a bicycle from his father, Murete and this inspired him to want a bicycle of his own.
Every week, Saruni puts aside his temptations to dedicatedly save his money for the one want he has, buy a new bicycle. He neatly places his coins in rows and piles every time he adds to his collection and looks at it admiringly.
The illustrations are so real life like, giving you the impression that it is a true story although it is realistic fiction. The scene is set in Tanzania, Africa. The watercolor illustrations set the perfect mood and emotion that character is narrating.
There are many things children can learn from this story. There is a skinny tall man, a character who teases or laughs at the boy for his ambition. Saruni’s mother encourages him to persevere and not worry about him. She assures him that he will succeed in getting the bike.
At the end of the story, Saruni’s parents surprise the little boy with a bicycle.
What my kids thought of the story
My son first read the story three years ago in grade three. When I was working on by blog last month, I asked him he would like to review a book for us for Kids Read the World – Africa, We had already read and reviewed this book from Egypt. D pointed out that he knew some of the titles from the series and that he’d love to help me with this book about Tanzania.
I asked him what the story was about and how he liked it. ‘It’s about a boy who saves money to buy a bicycle. He works hard… very hard, but finds that he can’t collect all that money but then his parents chip in and help him.’
Well… that is about it, I guess. 🙂
Perseverance, family, money matters and more…
This book is a good read aloud book as Tololwa M. Mollel‘s books usually are. It was a good conversation starter on the topic of saving money to buy your ‘wants’.
My son started getting his pocket money from when he was 8 years old. We taught him about money matters and since then, every few months, we go through the ‘talking about it’ session. One of the things we taught him is that there are ‘wants’ and there are ‘needs’. It is very important for children to know the difference between this.
This book helps you talk about helping parents at home too. Saruni helps his father and mother with their business. It is very natural for him to want to help. He gets paid for his services as gratitude for his work by his mother every Saturday.
In my home we don’t pay our children for doing chores but more so because we acknowledge that they are contributing members of the family. Thankfully my children are very responsible. They like to help me in every way they can. I could talk about this with D and show him how very similar he was with Saruni. Saruni is so empathetic to his parents and helps them out because he know his mom needs his help. Just the same way as D and his sisters help me and Dad out because they see that we need help.
Where to get My Rows and Piles of Coins?
This book is available on Amazon. If your child reads an American syllabus here in KSA, it is in the Third Grade Reading Street book – Volume 3.1