“This story of African hardship centered on two tight-knit siblings educates, but may not inspire repeat readings.”
Inspired by the author’s encounter with a real-life Prisca and her brother Caleb’s situation in Malawi, As Big As the Sky details the close relationship between the two siblings and their subsequent parting as Caleb leaves to attend a better school in a faraway town. Prisca misses her brother but lacks the requisite money to visit him and so begins a series of entrepreneurial endeavors, making various handicrafts that the peddler Tewa Tewa attempts to sell for her to no avail. Prisca may be the main character, but Tewa Tewa is the book’s true hero, both in his efforts to sell Prisca’s creations and the many hour bike ride he accomplishes to take Prisca and her mother to visit Caleb, magnifying Prisca’s own smaller acts of kindness. The story and illustrations together show some of the hardships of living in Africa, though without being depressing, and provide insight into another culture on a level appropriate to the target age. A sweet story of siblings, determination and kindness, with subject matter supposedly intended to tug at a reader’s heartstrings, the attempt was obvious but the end result is more educational than compelling.
What happens when a brother and sister who share a love as big as the sky must separate? This heartwarming story set in an African village shows that with a little generosity, there’s always a way to come together.
In a small African village in Malawi, Prisca and her brother Caleb work together and play together, chasing each other as fast as they can. But when Caleb has to leave home to attend a good school, Prisca misses him terribly. Hoping to earn enough money to visit him, Prisca begs a local peddler to sell her crafts—but no one buys what she’s made. However, thanks to Prisca’s kindness and compassion, her dreams of reuniting with Caleb just may come true.
Prisca and Caleb have a great relationship. Look for examples of how they demonstrate their love for each other throughout the book.
Prisca has a problem—she wants to go see Caleb, but she doesn’t have enough money to go. How does she try to solve her own problem? How does she ultimately succeed? How can you use Prisca’s technique in solving your own problems?
I am so happy to be sharing As Big As The Sky with you! The story is inspired by a family we stayed with in a village in Chim wang’ombe, Malawi. My husband, Bob, and I do love to travel. And when we do, we make sure we are able to meet the people and learn about their culture. We also volunteer with the refugee population where we meet fantastic people from all over the world. Before I retired, I taught reading. My favorite part was watching my student’s faces light up as they learned new words and could truly enjoy a good book.
Bob and I moved to Colorado where we both love to hike and bike and enjoy the great outdoors. We also love to visit our children and grandchildren who live just a drive away.
Elizabeth Zunon was born in Albany, New York, and grew up in on the Ivory Coast of West Africa. As a little girl, she loved to draw, paint, make up dances, and play dress-up, and as she grew up, she didn’t really change! Elizabeth now lives in Albany where she explores a multicultural world though painting, beading, sewing, and collage. Visit her at LizZunon.com.
To J J, Emily, Audie, and Griz for brightening my world. To Chelsea for sharing the Malawi adventure. and to the children of Malawi for broadening my horizons.
To all of the girls finding their place in the world . . . we see you.
“An homage to the resourcefulness of children, whose ingenuity is their wealth. . . . this quiet tale emphasizes the sacrifices families often make to educate their children.”