Kidlit Review: I Came From the Water by Vanita Oelschlager

Title: I Came From the Water
Author: Vanita Oelschlager
Illustrator: Mike Blanc
Publisher: Vanita Books
Released: September 2012
Source: publisher (Edelweiss)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

The story is based on the actual experiences of Moses, an eight year-old boy and resident of St. Helene’s orphanage outside Port-au-Prince. As an infant, he was literally plucked from the waters of a nearby river, having been placed in a basket by whom we believe was his grandmother. The rest of his family perished in floods that wiped out their upland village in 2004. He was given his name by the nuns at St. Helene’s. The title is Moses’ reply to the author when she asked where he is from.

After the earthquake of 2010 destroyed Port-au-Prince and much of the surround- ing area, the orphanage was flooded with a new wave of parentless boys and girls. Moses helped these children adapt to their new lives and in so doing displays a fearless hope and determination that may lead to Haiti’s renewal as a self-supporting nation.

St. Helene’s orphanage is run by Father Rick Frechette known globally for his dedication to improving the lives of poor children across Latin America. Net profits from I Came From the Water will go to support St. Helene’s and Father Rick’s efforts to help rebuild Haiti by offering a safe place to live and a free education for children like Moses.

It is safe to say, Mike Blanc is one of my favorite illustrators of children’s books. I see his name on a cover and I don’t even care what the book is about; I just want to open it up and let my eyes drink in the images while I ooh and aah over the color, the vibrancy, the movement, the emotion. (Take a peek below, you’ll see what I mean.)

The publisher has listed I Came From the Water for children ages 4-8, but I admit I chose not to read it to my very sensitive, just-turned 4-year-old… not yet. (It was one of those “know your child” moments; I’m glad I read the book on my own first.) Moses’s story a moving and true story – involves a number of difficult and terrifying topics: surviving major natural disasters, losing parents or other family members, and fighting disease due to poor water and sanitation conditions.

Vanita Oelschlager handles these themes in an amazingly sensitive and child-friendly manner. She also points out all the people who help others cope and rebuild – including how children join in to help. The final pages contain a bit of background info on Moses; photographs of others who appear in his story; brief, age-appropriate historical information about the disasters; as well as a map of Haiti, illustrated by Blanc.

Compelling and unique, I Came From the Water is the perfect book to supplement geography and social studies learning at school or at home.

Look inside the book here:

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.