Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Review: The Cedarville Shop and the Wheelbarrow Swap by Bridget Krone

Today's read greets from South Africa and handles an interesting theme. Do you remember hearing the story of a man, who traded a paperclip and ended up with a house (or something like that)? This tale heads down a very similar path with a little boy, who wants to help his family escape poverty and achieve a dream. Put all of these aspects together, and this sounded like it could be a really good read. It doesn't hit the shelves until June, but we're going to take a peek, anyway.

by Bridget Krone
Catalyst Press
 Middle Grade Contemporary
188 pages
ages 8 to 12

JUNE 14th!!!

A lot of things can feel just out of reach in 12-year-old Boipelo Seku's small, impoverished village of Cedarville, South Africa. The idea of one day living in a house that's big enough for his family is just a faraway dream. But when Boi stumbles on a story about a Canadian man who traded his way from a paperclip to a house, Boi hatches his own trading plan starting with a tiny clay cow he molded from river mud. Trade by trade, Boi and his best friend Potso discover that even though Cedarville lacks so many of the things that made the paperclip trade possible, it is fuller than either of them ever imagined.

In a chain of events that turns Boi's tiny spark into a warming fire, Boi learns the power of friendship and community, and finds that something’s value isn’t in what you can trade for it, but in the good it brings to the people you love.



Culture, life lessons, wit, and good-natured fun are masterfully woven into a warm-hearted tale, which will keep you in the pages until the very end.

Boi lives with his grandmother and father in their very small, two room house. They survive, but it's hard. When he stumbles on the story of a man trading a paperclip up to a house, he's determined to see if he can do the same. With clay from the river, he forms a makeshift cow and announces his hope to trade it for something...anything with a bit of value. The trading soon takes the strangest twists and turns, and the direction it goes proves much richer than any house could ever be.

This book holds quite a few themes, making it a very versatile read. First, it takes a look at South Africa and touches lightly upon the apartheid, history, and circumstances it's caused. There is a short section, before the story begins, which explains all of this briefly but well enough to give readers a foothold before diving into the tale. While the story follows Boi and his trading adventure, the details of the town, people, and daily life mold in effortlessly and give the reader a very good glimpse at life in this area. So, this is a great read to also use when exploring this area of the world.

Next, is the heart of the tale. Boi's determination to help his family is inspiring. The friendliness and connection of the community is also palpable. Yet, it's not perfect, which lets the sparks of kindness pop out even more. Boi learns that decisions can mean more than it appears and grows with each choice. 

Lastly, the tale is simply fun. Boi is easy to connect with and has an engaging personality. He struggles with usual problems such as parents, friendship, and peers and has very normal worries and fears. And these do come across familiar even when they take place under different circumstances and living conditions. There's always something happening, keeping boredom away, and it's impossible to guess what's going to happen next on the trading end because this does sprout in the oddest ways.

Not only is this one a nice read (and not overly long), but it can also be used for classrooms, homeschoolers, or other group themes. 

I am adding this one to my favorite list.

And here she is...

Bridget Krone lives in Hilton, South Africa with her husband Anton and their two grown sons, who come home for occasional holidays.  Their house is on the edge of a farm and a nature reserve and she can see cows on the hill as well as the Drakensberg mountains from her stoep.
She was an English teacher for a few years and then started writing English text books for South African schools. She still writes readers, study guides, teacher guides and text books, and has also compiled poetry and short story anthologies. Learn more about Bridget at her website

1 comment:

Heather N. Quinn said...

What a wonderful, modern premise. Thanks for introducing me to this one.