SOSU' S call
Ghanian author Asare (Cat in Search of a Friend) touches on weighty themes of prejudice and courage as he introduces Sosu, a disabled African boy whose bravery eclipses his physical limitations. Incapable of walking, Sosu is shunned: "It is bad luck to have the likes of him in our village.... You must keep him in your house," two fishermen tell Sosu's father. While children will empathize with the unfairness of Sosu's situation, the story moves sluggishly. Lengthy blocks of text unhurriedly relate both the poignant and exciting moments. It is mainly through slow, third-person-omniscient narration that readers learn of Sosu's feelings, as in Sosu's jealousy of his active dog or his interest in watching the chickens, "perhaps because there was nothing to envy about them!" When storm waters rage one day, Sosu drags himself to the drum shed, where he beats out a rhythm to call the men back from their work, to help save the others. Drab hues dominate the watercolors in the climactic scenes and elsewhere, possibly echoing Sosu's feelings of deficiency and loneliness but issuing little welcome to readers. And while rainbow colors grace the final spread--when Sosu receives a wheelchair for his heroic deed--the ending is a bit of an abrupt turnaround. Children may celebrate the message of Sosu's triumph, if not the way in which it is delivered.