I was at the library a few weeks ago, looking for children's books about Ethiopia, when I found My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me. The book is written by Maya Angelou and the photos are by Margaret Courtney-Clarke. It doesn't take place in Ethiopia, but in a Ndebele village in South Africa.
The first thing that struck me were the deeply saturated colors of the photographs. They feature many images of the painted houses in which the Ndebele people live, which are wonderful. The text is likewise joyfully colored, varying in size and sometimes font depending on what the character is saying. Sometimes I found the text a little hard to follow, because it goes from one page to the next and then back again, changing colors and lines. But it made me slow down and study the pictures more, so that is a good thing. If a child is just learning to read, it may be a challenge for them to follow the words in the typical way.
The main character is Thandi, a little girl from this Ndebele village. Thandi introduces herself to us, tells us about her village, her family, school and of course, her chicken. It is a great way for kids to learn about a culture that is different from their own, while at the same time noticing the things we have in common -- perhaps, for example, a pesky younger sibling.
I'm going to use it in one of my classes, though I still need to figure out for which lesson and how to tie it into an art project. Thandi's father built her a little house of her own which is painted. Maybe we could glue small pieces of wood together to form a house and then paint it with our own images when the glue is set.
I'll let you know if I do it, and I'll try to include pictures.