Along The Tapajos by Fernando Vilela.


Values: Responsibility, Empathy, Acceptance, Collaboration and Respect.


This picturebook, originally published in Brazil, has been longlisted for the UKLA 2021 Book Awards under 'Information Texts' and this is interesting as it doesn't necessarily look like a 'typical' information text at first glance. The illustrations are bright, bold and appealing - they draw the reader into the vibrant world of the communities along the Tapajos river in Brazil. The pages take on the appearance of a fictional story, and yet are designed to teach people about life living on this vast river. Vilela has based the book around the story of a brother and sister who leave their home, school, and the rest of the village along with everyone else to move to dry land during the rainy season. This is not an unexpected event as the rains mean the villagers have to pack everything up and move twice yearly as a result of the seasonal changes. Unfortunately, they leave their tortoise, Titi, behind and must venture back for him. Along the way, the book introduces animals that are native to this part of Brazil and the Amazon Rainforest. At the end of the book, the author has included a page of information about the Tapajos River in a more-typical non-fiction way.


I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and felt drawn to the characters and the empathy they showed Titi. They faced danger to return and ensure he did not starve or drown, and this would be something many children would relate to. Pets and families evoke strong emotional responses in pupils and are a great way of discussing this Value. Children can understand that Titi might have been feeling scared or isolated, and try to do something to help. I don't feature non-fiction texts as often as I write about fiction texts on the blog, but there is no reason why information texts cannot be used to teach Values too.


Another Value I would discuss with children when reading this book is responsibility. In the book, the villagers do not try to change the Earth and its climate to suit them, but adapt themselves to the situation. This means encountering inconvenience twice a year through moving home, but the implication is that humans must work with nature to create harmony. I loved the way the animals - some dangerous like crocodiles - exist alongside the community and they understand each other's behaviours in this book. I think it sheds light on the wonderful relationship that some traditional communities have with nature and how humans should respect the world around them.


The way the community work together is a great display of the Value of collaboration and teamwork. Even the pictures demonstrate how crucial working together is, and that tasks such as moving house down a river where crocodiles and other dangerous creatures swim, is not possible without communication and supporting each other. What a great example of this Value in action!


This is a great book if you are teaching a unit on rainforests or Brazil or South America, or even as a stand-alone assembly, circle time or bedtime story. There is so much that can be discussed from the rich pictures and vivid language, and the fact it is an information text makes this story even more special. There is no reason why information about other people and ways of living should be inaccessible to even the earliest reader. Promoting acceptance, respect and empathy with how other people lives their lives is at the heart of Values-based teaching and this is a great example.


You can buy your own copy from Blackwell's here. A fantastic information text for any classroom or bedroom! I look forward to seeing how this book does in the UKLA Book Awards too!

You can also find books with similar Values by clicking on these hashtags:

#empathy

#responsibility

#respect

#acceptance

#collaboration


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