The Water Princess
Author: Susan Verde
Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds
Published September 13, 2016 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Goodreads Summary: Based on supermodel Georgie Badiel’s childhood, a young girl dreams of bringing clean drinking water to her African village
With its wide sky and warm earth, Princess Gie Gie’s kingdom is a beautiful land. But clean drinking water is scarce in her small African village. And try as she might, Gie Gie cannot bring the water closer; she cannot make it run clearer. Every morning, she rises before the sun to make the long journey to the well. Instead of a crown, she wears a heavy pot on her head to collect the water. After the voyage home, after boiling the water to drink and clean with, Gie Gie thinks of the trip that tomorrow will bring. And she dreams. She dreams of a day when her village will have cool, crystal-clear water of its own.
Inspired by the childhood of African–born model Georgie Badiel, acclaimed author Susan Verde and award-winning author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds have come together to tell this moving story. As a child in Burkina Faso, Georgie and the other girls in her village had to walk for miles each day to collect water. This vibrant, engaging picture book sheds light on this struggle that continues all over the world today, instilling hope for a future when all children will have access to clean drinking water.
Ricki’s Review: This book captured my attention as soon as I saw the cover. The illustrations are beautiful, and I couldn’t help but sit for long periods of time, studying them closely. I appreciated and enjoyed this lyrical story that is based on Georgie Badiel’s childhood experiences. I have the F&G, and I am particularly excited to read the author’s note when the full book is printed. I know Georgie Badiel is an activist and leads a foundation dedicated to promoting clean drinking water and sanitation in Africa, so I think the author’s note will be particularly insightful.
Kellee’s Review: The hardest books for me to read are the books where they seem as if they are historical fiction yet they are modern stories. It makes me so sad to know that there are those like Gie Gie who must work this hard just to get water. I feel like our world must help those who struggle in this way because water is a basic need that all should have access to. I think this book is a wonderful introduction to build awareness because many students do not know what is happening around the world, and this story is told in a beautiful yet truthful and hard way. Also, the connection it has with A Long Walk to Water makes it a perfect addition to a unit looking at that novel. Additionally, I must add that Peter H. Reynolds outdid himself with the illustrations in this book. I love Reynolds’s work, but these are pure pieces of art. Beautiful. I also look forward to the end notes because I want to learn more about Georgie Badiel and her work.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: It would be great for teachers to build students’ awareness of the water/sanitation concerns within Africa. This might include reading more books about the subject and visiting websites supporting the cause. Georgie Badiel’s foundation is: http://georgiebadielfoundation.org/, and there are also many others out there, including: http://www.waterforsouthsudan.org/. I know of two elementary school classes who have devoted their entire year to raising money to build wells in Africa. These kinds of social action projects will surely impact students.
Discussion Questions: What does Princess Gie Gie’s day look like? What do the other women’s days look like? Why do you think this is?; Does Gie Gie feel frustrated? How might you feel in the same situation?; What can we do to support our peers who are living in similar situations to Gie Gie?
Flagged Passage: “My kingdom…the African sky, so wide and so close. I can almost touch the sharp edges of the stars.”
Read This If You Loved: A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park; Just Add Water by Robin Hill and Charles Hall