Book: My birthmark, my gift
Author: Chibuzor Mirian Azubuike
Year of Publication: 2020
Book Reviewer: Salamatu Sule
My Birthmark, My Gift by Chibuzor Mirian Azubuike is a 65-page storybook for children between the ages of seven and twelve. Like every good children’s book, an adult can relate to it. Once an adult can’t, then, it isn’t a good story for children. The book has colourful illustrations and a captivating storyline that hooks the reader at a sitting. Chibuzor is a storyteller par excellence and this book, which is her second published work, did not disappoint.
It is a book about young Chedo who was born with a birthmark that is supposed to be a gift but turns out to become disturbing as she’s been ridiculed and mocked at school. Will she brave her birthmark as a part of her or will this affect her studies? One needs to read this to unravel the mystery.
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The use of characterization is flawless and realistic as even kids can relate to the character of Eka – the bully, and that of Mr. James – the scammer. It was quite deliberate for the author to bring out salient issues that more often, parents and teachers are blind to.
The whole idea of inculcating some foundational moral virtues is what the author set out to achieve and whether or not she did achieve it is left for the reader whose curiosity will be held spellbound until the end of the book.
My Birthmark, My Gift poses the questions about how often we engage our kids in terms of understanding their emotional and physical lives. What do we tell them about their bodies and how do we tell them? Who do they relate with and on what grounds?
She brings out the issue of how we should constantly counsel our children about relating with strangers and being confident about who they are without apology to anyone about the colours of their skin, birthmarks.
The reader will also appreciate the caution technique used in bringing out the violence and abuse that takes place. The questions that can easily pop up from the kids and even readers are about the kind of punishment that is meted to Mr. James. Is running away and abandoning his property enough in this case?
At school, what sort of measures did Chedo’s teacher put in place to apprehend a bully or violators of good moral ethics? If this is a book that educates, instructs, and motivates, then, kids must know there are consequences for every good and bad decision they take in the name of making their classmates feel bad.
The themes of love, envy, bullying, courage, and forgiveness are the core of the author’s intended message.
However, while reading the book, I observed the author is not so patient. I might attribute this to printer or devil’s error. These should be quickly reviewed as the kids themselves can be the best of critic when it comes to spotting errors.