Title: The No. 1 Car Spotter
Illustrator: Warwick Johnson Cadwell
Publisher: Kane Miller
Concepts: markets, innovation, household division of labor, caring labor, migration, jobs
Review: Oluwalase Babatunde Benson lives in a small African village in between the forest and the river and a No. 1 road into the city. Everyone calls him No. 1 because he can spot and identify cars coming toward the village before anyone else can. The women of the village believe that spotting cars does not have much value, so they put No. 1 to work in a variety of other tasks such as collecting firewood, hoeing the fields, sweeping the compound, and herding the cows and goats. Like most other men in the village, No. 1's father works in the city and sends money home, so much work remains to be done in the village.
No. 1 is reliable, but he is also spontaneous and a quick thinker. These traits come in handy when the village routine is interrupted by some unexpected events, including the collapse of the wood cart that No. 1's family uses to take their food items to sell at the market. Not only does No. 1 come up with an innovative solution for transporting their wares to the market, he also manages to provide his Auntie Fine-Fine with a small beauty makeover and help his ailing grandmother get the medicine she needs.
Penned by gifted story-teller Atinuke, this collection of short stories offers readers an engaging glimpse of a small rural African community at work and at play. The stories are built around themes related to family relations, social networks, markets, and the division of labor within the home. While the text touches upon the hardships of living in a poor village, the stories emphasize the small victories, humor, and touching moments that add new meaning to the characters' daily way of life.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children