Title: A Question of Yams
Author: Gloria Repp
Major Themes: Papua New Guinea, Missionaries, Literacy, Translation, Animism, Easy Readers, Christian Non-fiction, Christian Living, Oceania
Synopsis: Will the yams grow, even though Kuri’s father did not sacrifice to the spirits?
A Question of Yams is one of those books that I really love—but never get around to reading to my children. It doesn’t fit into any of our history studies, and because it lives with the Easy Readers in our library, no one thinks to ask me to read it to them. Well, today, some of the children were away all day, so I didn’t want to read our normal books. They wouldn’t have been happy to miss out! So, I went to the shelves and started looking for something short that the younger ones who stayed home would enjoy. Gloria Repp’s A Question of Yams was perfect!
Kuri is worried. His father is planting the yams they depend on for food, but he is not praying to the spirits for a good crop, as he always has in the past. Father has been listening to the missionaries who came to their part of Papua New Guinea as he helps them with words, and now he is praying to their God instead of to the spirits. What will happen? Will the yams grow, or will the spirits be angry and ruin the crop?
The Head Men constantly warn Kuri’s father that he will be punished for turning away from the spirits. Is this warning coming true when no rain falls and the plants are wilting? What will Kuri’s father and the other Christians in the village do? And, when Kuri is bitten by a poisonous snake, what will happen? Not only Kuri, but all the villagers, learn about prayer and the power of the true God.
A Question of Yams is a great story for young children. It teaches about God and living for Him. It is a true story, which I have found greatly appeals to children. It is also an introduction to Papua New Guinea and the lifestyle there. Because it is an easy reader, for young children, the nasty parts of life in that country are not mentioned. There are simple, black-and-white pictures that help to tell the story. I highly recommend this book for young readers.
Read Aloud—Ages 3 – 4, 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Age 7 – 9, 8 – 12