After participating on a CouldYou? trip to Mozambique in 2013, Literacy consultant April Nickell came home passionate about producing traditional Mozambican children’s books in an effort to grow a generation of proficient readers and writers. In partnership with OurStories, CouldYou? has created an initiative which hopes to produce and distribute a series of children’s books native to Mozambique, sharing one story from each province. This will allow the next generation to learn and grow with books that reflect and celebrate their culture. OurStories is a part of the broader Educate Mozambique initiative to transform the educational system within the country.
OurStories and CouldYou? seek to cultivate these culturally relevant tales and translate them in collaboration with African storytellers into books that will allow children to better relate to their own history and culture. It is a key mission of OurStories to instill cultural pride and ownership in readers and storytellers alike, creating scaffolds for African storytellers and writers to create more literature. Mr. Rabbit and the Well is the first in a series of traditional stories that were collected in Mozambique and are being adapted into dynamic children’s books designed by literacy specialists and experienced designers.
Mr. Rabbit and the Well (Nwa Mpfundla Ni Shilhowo), was created by literacy specialist April Nickell and designer Eric Emch, and translated from Mozambican educator Manuel Jeque Francisco. The book tells the story of a community of animals who, when faced with a drought, decide to create a well. When everyone but Mr. Rabbit agrees to do their part to contribute to the well, Lion bans him from using it. Mr. Rabbit, clever as he is, seeks out cunning ways to get past the well’s guards and splash and play in the water. Will Mr. Rabbit get away with his scheming, or will the community ﬁnd a way to catch him in his tricks? Some themes or moral lessons in Mr. Rabbit and the Well may differ from themes often seen in American children’s books. In Mozambique, the community is valued over the individual, and as such, parents emphasize the importance of contributing for the betterment of the community.
The book has been endorsed by former president Joaquim Chissano, Mozambique’s Minister of Culture and Mozambique’s Minister of Education.