The Story Of The Lost Kendama @ Teach 4 Romania

Cris Pîrvu

The New Storytellers project is part of a bigger program that goes in two directions: on one hand, we support authors who create stories for all children, reflecting diverse realities; on the other hand, we engage with young readers and talk about diversity and empathy. This is why some of our books go to schools and kindergartens in disadvantaged areas and are accompanied by educational toolkits that educators can use in class.

Last fall, we donated 500 copies of The Story Of The Lost Kendama to 17 Teach for Romania schools, 2 other schools in Tulcea and Teleorman, and to the Alternative Education Club from Ferentari, Bucharest.

I talked a little bit with Ioana Ghiga, a literature teacher from Teach for Romania who gave her students 30 books.

When Ioana pointed out that for too many of them, The Story Of The Lost Kendama is the only children’s book they have at home, I thought this was quite sad and I told her so.

"- It's not sad ... I find it nice to start your library with this book.", Ioana replied.

And I now agree that it is quite appropriate to start your personal library with a book about the magical power of friendship and imagination; a book where the main characters understand from the start that they will be successful in their journey to overcome evil.

Ioana also shared a few details about her use of the education toolkit that CUAC had developed.

Students began reading the book at school and continued reading it at home during the winter holidays. They received personal binders with all the activities, where Ioana also placed emoji stickers intended as rewards for each newly read chapter. During class, students worked with the book’s illustrations and imagined their own stories.

Ioana was pleasantly surprised to see that even reluctant readers were successful in crafting good stories.

In the book, the two main characters, Ionuț and Diana, take a break from homework and decide to go out. They meet Leo, a mysterious and dreaded boy who takes Ionuț's kendama and disappears.

Here's how A., an 11-year-old gamer, who has difficulty in reading and writing, reinvents the storyline: "I think the story is about kids who were friends. One of them lost the kendama, so he had to go to Japan to take it back because it had been invented there. It was very difficult, he found a master to fix it, then he returned and played with it happily ever after."

I also found that the children's answers to the question "Why do you think that Leo is grayish?" were great.

"- Because he's modest!"

"- Because he's poor and poor people are gray."

 "Leo is a thief and the thieves are hiding, so that's why he’s gray."

 How would you answer this question?