The Girl Who Buried Her Dreams in a Can

The Girl who Buried her Dreams in a Can
Author Dr. Tererai Trent
Illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist

Viking 2015
ISBN 978-0-670-01654-9

Dr. Tererai Trent, in her personal story, tells in an inspirational children’s story how she overcame punishing obstacles to fulfill her dream of being educated.

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“. . . offers inspiration for the young reader.”

The setting is Rhodesia, the country in southern Africa now known as Zimbabwe, where girls traditionally remain at home to tend “the family’s cattle, fetch water and firewood” rather than attend school. Her parents hoped for a boy child, and already had a name picked   but no name if the birth turned out to be a daughter, so the girl in her story is nameless.  From her brother’s school books the girl learns to read, and ultimately was allowed to attend school. 

During her teen years, Rhodesia was embroiled in a civil war that ended in 1979 when Zimbabwe emerged. The author writes, “Moons rose and set, and the little girl became a young woman, a wife and mother.”  She continued her dream of earning the highest educational degrees possible in America.

After the war, her village is visited by an American woman who said her dream was achievable, “tinogona” inthe local language. In this motivational book, the author comes to the United States, and earns several college degrees. As she promised herself, she returns to her country to open educational opportunities for children.

The book’s earthy-toned illustrations by Jan Sprivey Gilchrist radiates a tenderness that will appeal to children. Trent’s childhood and her journey toward becoming a prominent scholar and humanitarian offers inspiration for the young reader.

Reviewer: Kate Padilla