Title: Yasmin's Hammer
Author: Ann Malaspina
Illustrator: Doug Chayka
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Concepts: child schooling and work, economic development, poverty, scarcity, human resources
Review: When Yasmin’s family lost their house and their livelihood to the cyclone that hit their rural Bangladeshi village, they had little choice but to try and start over in the capital city. The walk to Dhaka took days, and when they arrived they only had the clothes on their backs and a few belongings that had survived the storm. Yet city life provided opportunities and new hope. Soon enough, Yasmin’s father had work pedaling customers around the city in a rented rickshaw, her mother found a cleaning job in someone’s house, and Yasmin and her sister Mita hammered bricks in Dhaka’s construction industry.
The working conditions at the brickyard were harsh, and Yasmin yearned for a better life that included going to school. She instinctively knew that if she and Mita could learn how to read, they could grow up to achieve the jobs of their dreams. Perhaps if they started with just one book, it would help them to take a different path than the one that poverty and desperation had forced them to embark upon in Dhaka.
Illustrated with Doug Chaka’s signature impressionistic style, this new book offers young learners a revealing look at the working and living conditions of the most vulnerable of the poor. The optimistic tone and child’s point of view help to make Yasmin’s Hammer accessible to young readers who may otherwise not identify with the topic. Teachers and parents will find the book a useful resource for talking about child labor and the value of an education.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children