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Crossing the Stream
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Crossing the Stream
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"A powerful coming-of-age story of self-discovery and overcoming fear."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review Ato hasn't visited his grandmother's house since he was seven. He's heard the rumors that...
"A powerful coming-of-age story of self-discovery and overcoming fear."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review Ato hasn't visited his grandmother's house since he was seven. He's heard the rumors that...
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  • "A powerful coming-of-age story of self-discovery and overcoming fear."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

    Ato hasn't visited his grandmother's house since he was seven. He's heard the rumors that she's a witch, and his mother has told him he must never sit on the old couch on her porch. Now here he is, on that exact couch, with a strange-looking drink his grandmother has given him, wondering if the rumors are true. What's more, there's a freshly dug hole in her yard that Ato suspects may be a grave meant for him.

    Meanwhile at school, Ato and his friends have entered a competition to win entry to Nnoma, the island bird sanctuary that Ato's father helped created. But something is poisoning the community garden where their project is housed, and Ato sets out to track down the culprit. In doing so, he brings his estranged mother and grandmother back together, and begins healing the wounds left on the family by his father's death years before.

    And that hole in the yard? It is a grave, but not for the purpose Ato feared, and its use brings a tender, celebratory ending to this deeply felt and universal story of healing and love from one of Ghana's most admired children's book authors.

About the Author-

  • Elizabeth-Irene Baitie is a Ghanaian children's book author. She has won the Burt Award for African Young Adult Literature, along with the Macmillan Writer's Prize for Africa. She lives in Accra with her husband and children.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    June 1, 2021
    Twelve-year-old Ato has longed to visit the island of Nnoma, a highly protected bird sanctuary that his late father helped build, in this latest title by award-winning Ghanaian author Baitie. If he and his friends Dzifa and Leslie put together a successful environmental project, they could earn one of the rare opportunities to see Nnoma, and they embark on growing vegetables using organic pesticides. Ato has other things on his mind too: His mother recently announced that he would be spending weekends with Nana, his paternal grandmother. This was unexpected since tensions developed between the two women after his father's death and he hasn't gone to her house in years. Ato is also aware of financial problems at home. The one thing that seems to lift his mother's spirits are conversations with the Prophet, a spiritual figure with growing influence in their community. Despite feeling close to Nana, who visits on special occasions, Ato is uneasy because of gossip and warnings about her. However, his grandmother's stories gradually answer questions Ato has about his father and make him determined to uncover secrets in his community. This richly textured contemporary story set in Ghana highlights timely issues around the environment and exploitation of the poor. The well-developed sense of place and natural dialogue create an immersive reading experience, and Ato and his friends, especially fearless Dzifa, are engaging as they discover the courage to push for truth. A powerful coming-of-age story of self-discovery and overcoming fear. (Fiction. 9-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    July 1, 2021
    Grades 4-6 Winning the contest that will gain him entry to Nnoma, the bird-sanctuary island, means the world to Ato. He and his friends, Dzifa and Leslie, plan to win by finding a way to grow vegetables without using chemical pesticides. As if this was not enough of a challenge, other impediments surround this spunky trio: strict mothers, Leslie's germaphobia, and the gradually increasing hold of Prophet Yakayaka over the townspeople. Like Ato, readers might find their heads spinning as things start to go wrong all around and adults prove unreliable, leaving the children to their own devices. But readers who stick with it will find there's something for everyone in this fast-paced novel: adventure, friendship, reconciliation of loss, charlatan corruption, ecological issues, power, fear, faith, imagination, and more. Descriptions of local Ghanaian street food will delight those in the know and send the rest looking up recipes for suya, fried plantain, and waakye. All conundrums are satisfactorily resolved, making this a middle-grade must-read.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 23, 2021
    All Ghanaian 12-year-old Ato Turkson wants is to visit Nnoma, “the biggest bird sanctuary in all of Africa,” which his father helped build before his death, when Ato was an infant. Now, five years after it last opened, an opportunity to visit the exclusive island arises through an environmental project competition. With his oldest friends, fearless Dzifa and obedient Leslie, Ato decides to grow vegetables with natural pesticides. Concurrently, his mother suddenly tells him he’ll visit his paternal grandmother every weekend—following five years’ estrangement. Though Ato has fond memories of Nana, his mother and the Prophet of Fire, a local spiritual leader, urge him to be wary of Nana’s witchery and porch sofa. While Ato grows closer to Nana, comforted by her stories of his father, his community grows cagey when animals and crops start to die. As Ato becomes more suspicious of the Prophet and determined to save his community, he strives to turn his concerns into courage. Baitie (The Lion’s Whisper) offers a fully fleshed, sensorially detailed narrative exploring regret and the manipulation of fears through the lens of children’s curiosity in her absorbing latest. Ages 9–12. Agents: Sarah Odedina and Deborah Ahenkorah, Accord Literary.

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