Twenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus & the Village Bankby Paula Yoo (Author), Jamel Akib (Illustrator)
The Power of ONE!
Muhammad Yunus grew up in the city of Chittagong in Bangladesh. He was the third oldest of nine children. His parents were great believers in education and made sure that all their children studied hard. Muhammad joined the boy scouts and went on hikes through the countryside. On his hikes, Muhammad was alarmed to see the terrible conditions around him.
Muhammad became active in charity soon after. He realized that a very few coins went a long way for entire families.He studied economics and went to university in US where he saw a whole new world.
Back home, war, drought and famine had taken a toll on people. Muhammad was appalled to see the conditions had worsened while he was away. Then he met a young woman named Sufiya Begum. Although, weak and thin from lack of food, Sufiya weaved beautiful bamboo stools to make money. It cost her 5 taka or twenty two cents to make the stools. But she had to borrow the money and pay exorbitant amounts as interest. By the time she sold her wares, paid back her debt, Sufiya was left with only 2cents; not enough for the family.
It would have been easy for Muhammad to lend her that money as charity. But he quickly realized that this was not a long term solution. He was looking for a way to make her self-sufficient. He asked the local banks for the loan. He was turned down not just that once, but many more times. Frustrated at the lack of support, her started his own bank, “Grameen Bank” and made small loans called micro-credit.
The rest is history!
From wanting to help one woman, Muhammad Yunus soon became a “banker to the poor”. Muhammad went on to loan ten billion US dollars to twelve million people worldwide. He received Nobel Peace Prize for his work.
Paula Yoo tells it straight. She describes the tragic conditions of people living under poverty with grace and compassion. Coupled with Akib’s pastel chalk art, Yoo makes a difficult subject accessible to younger audience. In a world separated by the “haves” and “have-nots”, the courageous tale of Muhammad Yunnus is refreshing, hopeful and forward-looking. Paula Yoo’s ending leaves us with a sense that there is still more to be done, more to fulfill and that it can be done.
A real-life hero story, a lesson in how one man can truly create change for the masses, this book is an essential read for kids.
This review was done as a part of a blog tour. I had the wonderful opportunity to ask Paula Yoo, the author, a few questions. And here is what she had to say:
1. Tell us what led up to this book?
PAULA: Jason Low of Lee & Low Books emailed me a few years ago to ask if I was interested in the life of Muhammad Yunus. Jason had admired Professor Yunus’ work and felt his life could potentially become a strong children’s book biography. At the time, I knew Professor Yunus and Grameen Bank had won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for their revolutionary work with micro banking and micro credit to combat poverty. But I did not know the details of his life. Jason recommended I read his autobiography, BANKER TO THE POOR: MICRO-LENDING AND THE BATTLE AGAINST WORLD POVERTY. I read that book in one sitting. I was fascinated and inspired by his life. I realized Jason was right – Professor Yunus’ journey to become a champion for the poor would be a great story for children to learn not just about the basic tenets of finance and money but also about compassion and generosity and helping others. I began to read more books and research Professor Yunus’ life, along with interviewing him, which led to this book.
2. Your favorite page in the book is…
PAULA : First of all, I want to say how honored and thrilled I am by the beautiful artwork done by the amazing Jamel Akib. So art-wise, I would say all the pages of the book’s illustrations are my favorites! But if I had to choose one specific page, it would be the opening page featuring the text and art of Muhammad as a young boy and his mother giving away food and clothes to their poor neighbors. It’s a very moving picture and moment in Muhammad’s childhood because it shows what sparked his inspiration and drive to help others less fortunate than him. His mother and father taught him great lessons in compassion and generosity.
3. You had the opportunity to meet with Muhammad Yunus. Tell us what about Yunus struck you the most.
PAULA: It was such a privilege and honor to sit down with Muhammad Yunus for a one-on-one interview for the book! I was incredibly nervous and intimidated because he won the Nobel Peace Prize! So when we met, what struck me immediately about Professor Yunus was how down to earth and friendly he was with me. His smile lit up his whole face and put me at ease immediately. It made me realize how his ability to connect with people and find common ground was the driving force behind his passionate mission to help others rise above poverty.
4. What’s next?
PAULA: When I’m not writing books, I also write for TV. I have had the wonderful opportunity to write for two shows this year – Amazon’s MOZART IN THE JUNGLE and SyFy’s DEFIANCE. I’m also working on a couple of book projects but I can’t say much about them yet, so stay tuned! Thank you for this fun Q&A and blog tour stop. I really appreciate it! Wishing you and everyone Happy Writing!
Paula, Thank YOU for taking time to answer my questions and creating this memorable book on the life and work of Muhammad Yunus!
FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publishers for an honest opinion. I have NOT received any compensation for this review. All reviews and opinions are entirely my own!