The Banana-Leaf Ball

How Play Can Change the World

Written by Katie Smith Milway, Illustrated by Shane Evans

Separated from his family when they were forced to flee their home, a young East African boy named Deo lives alone in the Lukole refugee camp in Tanzania. With scarce resources at the camp, bullies have formed gangs to steal what they can, and a leader named Remy has begun targeting Deo. Then one day a coach gathers all the children to play soccer. Though Deo loves soccer and has even made his own ball out of banana leaves, he’s unsure at first about joining in when he sees Remy on the field. But as Deo and the other boys get drawn into the game, everything begins to change. Their shared joy in playing provides the children — including Remy — with a sense of belonging.

This is a lengthy but great book based on a true story. I love that it teaches about culture, community and the importance of being a good sport. The end of the book shares more information and background on the story. It also gives information on the games played so you can try them out. I am excited to share the games with our PE teacher and incorporate the story with PE.

Review by Vanessa Eyre, Robert Frost Media Center
Rating: ★★★★✩ (4 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 3-7

The Banana-Leaf Ball
Written by Katie Smith Milway, Illustrated by Shane Evans
Kids Can Press
32 pages
Release Date: April 4, 2017
A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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