Feel better with ‘Mimi’


Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 2:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 2:49 p.m.

So how are you feeling today?

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“Mimi’s Village” by Katie Smith Milway, illustrations by Eugenie Fernandes, c. 2012, Kids Can Press, $18.95, 32 pages.

If you're feeling well, that's great! But think about the last time you felt really sick. That's when Mom took you to see the doctor, who looked down your throat, checked your ears and sent you home with some medicine.

But what if you didn't have a doctor nearby? What would your family do? What would you do?

In the new book, "Mimi's Village" by Katie Smith Milway and Eugenie Fernandes, a little girl thinks about that, and then she has a dream.

It's a sad day in the village where Mimi Malaho lives. Last night, a baby died and his mother is weeping with the village's other women. Mimi is too young to sit with them, so she quietly goes home. She worries about her mother and the baby Ma is expecting. Her family has been lucky; nobody has gotten sick so far.

But then something horrible happens. Mimi's little sister, Nakkissi, drinks some dirty water. She was thirsty, and although Mimi knew she shouldn't do it, she gave Nakkissi a drink by the river.

That night, Nakkissi felt awful. The little girl moaned. She couldn't keep anything in her tummy, so Ma and Pa wrapped her in a blanket and put her in their cart. The whole family started walking down the path to the next village, where there was a clinic. It took an hour.

The next morning, there were lots of people lined up at the clinic. Nurse Tela took care of everyone, including Nakkissi and all of the babies. As Mimi watched Nurse Tela weigh each baby, she learned that the next day was vaccination day. The Malahos decided to spend the night at the clinic so they could get vaccinated.

When she got home, Mimi heard her father talking about malaria, which was making lots of the village's children sick. Mimi knew that was true, and she was thinking about a wish she'd made the day before. She was thinking about it when she went to bed and that night, she had a dream.

Her dream led to an idea. Her idea led to a project. Her project led to something very good for Mimi, her family, and the whole village.

Even though your child is small, you can bet she's listening. Surely, she knows that health care is a big issue these days. "Mimi's Village" takes that knowledge to the next level.

Inspired by real events and real people, author Katie Smith Milway explains a grown-up issue in a kid-friendly way, and children will definitely identify with a girl like Mimi.

Smith gives children more information about Zambia health care workers and health care in general, then she and illustrator Eugenie Fernandes explain what readers can do to help make life better for other children around the world.

For 5- to 8-year-olds who love making a difference, this is a story that leads the way. And for you, "Mimi's Village" is a book you will feel good about letting your child read.

Terri Schlichenmeyer never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.

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