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MAMA PANYA's PANCAKES; A Village Tale from Kenya

Author: Mary Chamberlin and Rich Chamberlin

Illustrator: Julia Cairns

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Publisher: Barefoot Books,

Material: paperback

Summary: Mama Panya and Adika (her son) are heading to the market. Adika is very happy when he learns that Mama is using her two coins to make pancakes. He's so happy, he invites everyone to his house to eat them. He promises Mama they can stretch the flour. But Mama is worried, if they use all the flour to feed their friends, what will they eat later? This story about friendship and sharing draws on a fable style of story telling.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, playtime reading, learning to read, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 8 to 10

Interest Level: 5 to 8

Reading Level: 3.8

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: This is a beautiful story. Although the story is set in Kenya, it has a universal theme of community. The author does a great job conveying both Adika's excitement and Mama's worries. An evening's dinner becomes a community feast, which adds to the fun. The illustrations are wonderful. The pages are bright and filled with lots of color, ultimately engaging the listener/reader in the excitement.

Pros: A fun story and happy child will draw readers into this colorful picture book. As an added bonus, you'll experience a typical day in rural Kenya.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is an excellent story, well worth reading. It should be in every elementary school library.


Educational Themes: This is a nice book to teaching young children about places they aren't likely to know about. There are plenty of details in the story, and they are complemented with more facts in the back. It is also a nice example of the folktale genre.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, fables and folklore, friendship, multicultural

Date(s) Reviewed: March 2009, May 2013

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews at and reviews and reader feedback at


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