The Orphan Boy

Bibliographic Information: Mollel, Tololwa M., and Paul Morin. The Orphan Boy. New York: Clarion, 1990. Print.

Brief Annotation: This is a beautifully written and illustrated story, or African folk tale, about a young orphan boy and an old man. At the beginning of the story, the old man has a fascination with a particular star. One night the star disappears, but the orphan boy comes to him. The orphan boy helps out the old man, allowing him to prosper throughout a drought. The boy magically does this and tells the old man that he will keep doing it if the old man does not find out his secret. In the end, the old man tries to discover what the boy is hiding and as a result loses the boy. The same night the orphan boy leaves, the star is back up in the sky.

Genre: Fiction (African Folk Tale)

Grade Level: K-6

Readers who will like this: I feel as though all readers would enjoy this, particularly students who can identify with the culture or who come from a culture that celebrates and cherishes folk tales. The story was even a little bit suspenseful, so I can see kids loving having this as a read aloud.

Rating/Response: 5 – Beautifully written and culturally representative. This is a book that I would absolutely have in my classroom and I could definitely see myself using it for a read aloud. 

One question you would ask before a read aloud: Based on the cover, who do you think the orphan boy is? What do you think he’ll do in the story and why?

Reading Strategy: Inferences

Rationale for strategy: While reading this story, I was naturally predicting and making inferences along the way. If used for a read aloud, a teacher could absolutely stop students at key points in the story and have them make predictions. Some predictions may include where the boy came from, how the old man will discover the orphan’s secret, and so on.

Posted by: Emma Henke

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