Children’s Book Giveaway: Mama Panya’s Pancakes.
June 29, 2010

When I first read Mama Panya’s Pancakes (written by Mary and Rich Chamberlin and illustrated by Julia Cairns), the boy in the tale, Adika, really made an impression on me.  He is irresistibly endearing. I knew immediately that I would tell people about the book.  AND I HAVE.

“And the feast began, as they sat under the baobab tree to eat Mama Panya’s pancakes.”

The book tells the story of a mother who takes her son to the market with her to buy the provisions for pancakes.  She does not have very much money and, much to her chagrin, Adika invites every friend they encounter to dinner.  Although she is worried that she will not have enough food to feed everyone, it turns out that her fears are unfounded: as they arrive, each of the guests brings something to share.

I think that what I appreciate most about Mama Panya’s Pancakes is that it is timeless.  Adika reminds his mother that sharing with friends is important and together they find that when they give to their community, their community gives back to them as well.  We can all benefit from hearing that lesson one more time.

As well, the book is filled with astonishing and vivid illustrations.  Mama Panya, her son, and their dog appear together on every page.  Moreover, each page brilliantly and beautifully portrays the Kenyan culture and, in particular, Mama Panya’s rural lifestyle.  The characters dress differently than our culture does, are surrounded by African wildlife, use Kiswahili words, and have experiences that are unique to their culture.

Pros: This book is a wonderful way to reinforce the value of community, generosity, and cultural acceptance.  It would be perfect for any child, especially one who is reluctant to share.

Cons: None.  I think the authors and illustrator all did a splendid job.

Borrow or Buy: Buy.  Come on, the book highlights a different culture (complete with a recipe, glossary, and cultural index at the back of the book) and tells an exceptional story to which we can all relate.  Definitely buy.

Reading tip: Pick one or two books and read them every day.  Will you get tired of them?  Yes.  Will you sometimes think that being stoned to death would be more fun?  Yes.  But before you know it, your child will start to realize that there is more to those one or two books than just flipping pages at the speed of light or gulping down cardboard corners.  They will likely start showing interest in the most familiar stories long before they stop ripping the dust jackets on everything else.

What to do: You can enter this giveaway by leaving a comment below or sending me an e-mail answering this question: if you could go anywhere in Africa, where would you choose and why?  All you need is an e-mail address.  The giveaway ends Thursday evening at 9 P.M. Pacific Time and the winners will be announced Friday morning.  You can leave one entry every day, for a total of up to three entries.

For extra entries: This is on the honor system, so please be honest.  I will award you one extra entry if you vote for me at Top Mommy Blogs by clicking here or at Top Baby Blogs by clicking here.  Each day you vote, I will award you two additional entries.  Don’t forget to let me know!  I am hoping to maintain or move into a spot in the top ten on both sites so that we can slowly begin to reach more parents about the joys and importance of reading with children.  If we inspire just ONE parent to read to their kid today, it’s worth a vote or two, don’t you think?

To purchase this book: You can buy Mama Panya’s Pancakes through Amazon.com (that link uses my affiliate code) or locate a local retailer through Indie Bound.org.


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  1. By lceel on June 29, 2010

    If I could go to Africa, I’d like to go to the Afar region, and dig for fossils.  Africa.  It’s where we ALL come from.

  2. By Sarah on June 29, 2010

    I would go back to Ethiopia, I used to live there! I left a huge piece of my heart there.

  3. By Natballs on June 29, 2010

    If I could travel anywhere in Africa, it would be Zimbabwe because, HELLO!, Rhodesian Ridgebacks originate from Zimbabwe! They are only the best dog evvverrrr ;)


    and Sarah- where do you get your storyboards?!? Do you make them?

  4. By Sarah Christensen on June 29, 2010

    Yes, I make the storyboards.  I measure out the various sizes of things and then just drop them in.  People keep requesting them, so I hope to make some generic ones to download soon.  But that relies on me learning how to do that…

  5. By Lindsey on June 29, 2010

    I guess I’d go to Ghana….my husband spent 2 months there the summer before we got married doing missions work.  I’m sure he’d love it if I’d go with him.

  6. By Kim on June 29, 2010

    Lovin’ that last picture :)

    If I could go anywhere in Africa,  I would pick Egypt. I think it would be fascinating to see all of the old pyramids and architecture, plus all of that desert!

  7. By on June 29, 2010

    I too, would go to Egypt—would love to see the Pyramids and tombs and whatnot—what wonderful pieces of history and amazing engineering.

  8. By on June 29, 2010

    I want to go to the ENTIRE continent. I am a history major, a humanitarian and fossil/rock hound who wants to be adopted by David Attenborough.

    I would go back to Ghana, the country where I run development programs. Actually, that is why I want to win this book. I know this is a random draw but I’m adding this book to my list to buy for when I return to Ghana. My organization funded the construction of a local NGO’s office and library. However, I want to expand the children’s library and one of my focuses will be on African/Africa inspired literature. So this is one draw I am actually entering :)

  9. By Cynthia A on June 29, 2010

    If I could go anywhere in Africa at this moment I think I would go to Rwanda with my best friend who is in the process of adopting a baby from there :)  I really want to go with her and help her, but I have a baby also, so I will be with her in prayers and thoughts.

    Voted for you of course in both spots :)!

  10. By on June 29, 2010

    I’d go to South Africa . . . I’ve always wanted to hear Zulu in person!

  11. By on June 29, 2010

    I’d be in South Africa to experience the World Cup.

  12. By Lindsey on June 29, 2010

    i voted on top mommy blogs!

  13. By Lindsey on June 29, 2010

    I voted on top baby blogs!

  14. By on June 29, 2010

    I have always wanted to go to Egypt.  Seeing the pyramids and the spynx would be breath taking!

  15. By Heidi on June 29, 2010

    I have always been fascinated by Africa.  A dear friend of mine spent two years in Tanzania and a year in Ethiopia, so I’d love to visit either place so I can see what she wrote about for so long.  And I’d love to go on a real safari!  :)

    This book looks awesome, and I totally agree that it’s timeless.  This would have been perfect for many, many uses in my elementary school classroom.

  16. By on June 29, 2010

    I would go to South Africa RIGHT NOW for World Cup 2010. But if I couldn’t make it there before July 11th (when World Cup ends) then I would also love to go to Egypt.

    I just voted for you at both sites.

  17. By on June 29, 2010

    Sarah!  I would love to win this book (if not I will for sure buy it)!  I lived in Kenya before I ended up at Hopkins and LOVED it!  I even speak a little bit of Swahili.  While I would love to go back and see my Kenyan family, I would also love to visit Tanzania as one of my closest friends is over there right now.  I also have close friends in Zambia and Sierra Leon, so I wouldn’t be against visiting either of those countries as well.  Lets be honest, I would go anywhere in Africa!  Thanks for being so awesome!  I try and vote for you everyday!  I definitely did today (both sites)!

  18. By Mallory on June 29, 2010

    I think I’d really like to go to Egypt and South Africa.  I have a lot of friends from South Africa, and I’ve always wanted to visit their home country.

  19. By Alicia S. on June 29, 2010

    I just wanted to say that I think that’s a great reading tip. I noticed with my son that the books I enjoyed reading to him the most in his baby days (and therefor ended up reading to him most frequently) are now the books that he enjoys HEARING the most now that he’s old enough to choose at story time.

    Makes story time more enjoyable for the both of us. Most toddlers and preschoolers I’ve been involved with usually have a select few stories that they DO NOT tire of… EVER. So I would also suggest choosing wisely those stories you do decide to repeat to your babies. You will probably be repeating them much longer than you anticipate lol

  20. By Beth on June 29, 2010

    What a great sounding book!  I’d like to go to Zimbabwe and visit Africa University.

    I voted for you on both Mommy and Baby blogs!

  21. By on June 29, 2010

    Anywhere in Africa? Probably Zimbabwe.

  22. By on June 29, 2010

    hi!  so, i actually just got back from africa and i really wish i would have been able to go to malawi!  i don’t know why, really…but it was my first choice and not the right season when we were going to be on the continent for that part of it (rain rain).  but i had a “save the children” boy there and really learned a lot and want to see how life is there.  i LOVED ghana and rwanda and want to go back to both of those countries as well…

  23. By beyond on June 29, 2010

    ghana! a friend of mine has family there and i would love to visit with her!

  24. By on June 29, 2010

    It’s difficult to choose but I would go to Ethiopia. My friend is Ethiopian and has told me a lot about their culture. I’d love to experience it firsthand.

  25. By Cynthia A on June 30, 2010

    Voted today!

  26. By Lyndsey on July 01, 2010

    I would go to Kenya and go on a safari

  27. By on July 01, 2010

    ok, so…. Africa is a rather large area to only pick one place. Can I narrow it two? Egypt, because I am a serious history buff. I love all of the mythology, history, and mystery of that place. I would also love to go somewhere that I could see a free roaming gorilla. I know you can in the congo… But that place is rather dangerous. Not because of the animals- but the poachers, etc :(

  28. By on July 01, 2010

    voted at both sites :)

  29. By Jill on July 01, 2010

    I would go to Zimbabwe because I had a penpal from there when I was younger and I’d love to meet her.

  30. By Amber on July 05, 2010

    Is this contest over? I wasn’t sure which Thursday/Friday. In the event it is not over, it is a very hard decision because there are so many gorgeous places, but I would have to say Madagascar. Home of the lemurs! I’m a primate girl and although seeing apes in the wild would be mind blowing, lemurs have STINK FIGHTS. Stink fights. They take their tails and rub their stink on them from their glands and flick them at each other. Isn’t that fantastic?


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