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Book Review: Hope for Haiti

How a game of soccer created hope from despair

By Kaj Lund Olsen | January 3 , 2011
Cover image courtesy G. P. Putnam's Sons
Cover image courtesy G. P. Putnam's Sons

Hope for Haiti
Author: Jesse Joshua Watson
Publisher/Release Date: G. P. Putnam's Sons/October 12, 2010
No. of pages: 32/Picture Book
Recommended Reading Level: Ages 4-8

When I look at Jesse Joshua Watson's picture book Hope for Haiti, I see my siblings—not just because they're adopted from the same country, but also because they were the models for the book. Jesse photographed my brother and sister to help illustrate his book.

My brother Jean portrays the main character, an 8-year-old boy. My sister Sandra plays a girl character. Jesse didn't have a girl in the book until after the photo shoot with my sister. He had them reenact the action in the book as he photographed them. From those pictures, he created paintings that became the book's illustrations.

The story begins in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti last January. A boy helps his mother set up a shelter made of tin and bed sheets in a soccer stadium where people have gathered after the earthquake. He and his friends play soccer with a ball made of rags, and they are briefly relieved from the fear and pain of the destruction all around them.

Then, a woman admonishes them for being joyful during such a time of sadness.

But we are soon reminded of the true meaning of hope when a man, seeing this, helps restore the joy of the game to them with a very special gift. However, it's the main character dreaming about his future at the end of the book that most powerfully shows the power of hope to overcome despair.

Reading the book, I got lost in the story rather than getting caught up in looking at my siblings in the artwork. Hope for Haiti tells a universal story that will open the hearts of people of all ages, no matter where they live.

By the way, my mom, author Deb Lund, wrote a book about my birth many years ago. I have always thought than Jean and Sandra would end up in one of her books, and maybe they will someday, but my mom's friend Jesse beat her to it.

You can see clips of the photo shoot that Jesse used to base his artwork on in the book trailer for Hope for Haiti.

Check out my interview with author Jesse Joshua Watson, too!


More than a million people remain homeless and schools are just now being rebuilt in Haiti a year after the country's capital city was devastated by a major earthquake on January 12, 2010. Scholastic Kid Reporters continue their reporting on the earthquake with stories about how people are continuing to help the embattled country in the Crisis in Haiti: One Year Later Special Report.


Get the latest on national and international events, movies, television, music, sports, and more from the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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