The Roses in My Carpets / by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Ronald Himler
Concepts: child schooling and work, scarcity, apprenticeship
Review: The young unnamed narrator of The Roses in My Carpets lives with his mother and sister in a refugee camp in Afghanistan, where he tries not to remember the war that led them here and took his father’s life. He cannot forget when he collects water for the family or goes to school, but when he learns how to weave elaborate carpets, he gets caught up in the beauty of his work and forgets all else.
In this sad but hopeful picture book, children will see numerous examples of economic concepts. The narrator, while clearly showing how labor-intensive a job can be, also illustrates how work can be enjoyable when a good match is made between a person’s interests and skills and their employment. The narrator’s apprenticeship is made possible because of the investment of a sponsor, and the sponsor-child relationship epitomizes the old adage of “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.” The narrator makes this return on investment abundantly clear when he states, “I will have a skill no one can take away. As long as I am strong and able, my family will never go hungry. … Soon, I will be a master craftsman and my sponsor’s money will not be needed.” In the past, the narrator sees only war, in the present only scarcity, but in the future he sees hope for a life free from both.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children
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