Genre: Children’s Fiction
Written by Ghanaian author Meshack Asare, The Canoe’s Storyis a children’s book about a tree’s journey from the forest to becoming a canoe sailing the ocean. Told from the tree’s perspective, this richly illustrated story, portrays the strong ties between man and nature.
“I started as a tree. I was a giant Wawa tree in the forest of the hinterland,” begins the story.
In the beginning, the tree enjoyed its stay in the forest and was happy with its contribution to the people that surrounded it. it provided shade to people, gave shelter to animals, provided canopies with its branches and leaves. For years the tree enjoyed complete quiet in the forest, and peacefully co-existed with animals and man.
But one day, something dramatic happened when a man began to attack the trees in the forest. The trees cried foul but could do nothing about what was happening to them as they were dispatched from the forest.
In many respects, The Canoe’s Story is more than a children’s book. At one level, it shows how the African fishermen greatly valued the trees from which they indirectly derived their livelihoods. Afterall, without the trees, they could not build the canoes they used for fishing.
The book also speaks to the vast depletion of forest resources that has been on-going for many years, and the fact that there has been very little consideration for the replacement of these valuable resources.
What makes Asare’s story interesting is the fact that it delivers a powerful message about the importance of conservation without sounding preachy. As friendly and helpful as trees are to man-kind, we must ask ourselves what happens to man-kind should the last tree in the world die!
At 63 pages, this is a book that young readers will enjoy, as much for its rich illustrations as for its simple yet powerful narration.
Meshack Asare is one of Africa’s best known children’s book authors. His books have been translated into several languages. In 1982, he won the NOMA Prize for publishing in Africa for his book, The Brassman’s Secret. Another of his books, Sosu’s Call received the 1999 UNESCO First Prize for Children’s and Young People’s Literature in the Service of Tolerance.