“Save your money if you want it that bad.”

Ever hear that from Mom or Dad? You want a new video game or a new bike or something. You ask for it, but they’re not budging on the budget. It’s up to you to find the cash.

So you save every penny you can, but the thing you want costs a whole lot more than you could ever dream of saving. Pennies don’t go very far, do they?

In the new book “One Hen” (c.2008, Kids Can Press, $18.95 / $19.95 Canada, 32 pages) by Katie Smith Milway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes, you’ll see that a few coins can go really far.
They can reach into the future.

In a small village in the Ashanti region of Ghana, there lived a young boy named Kojo. Kojo’s father died the year before and because there wasn’t enough money, Kojo had to quit school and help his mother gather wood to sell so that the two of them could eat. Kojo was sad about his future.

In the same village, Kojo’s neighbors had an idea. Each family contributed a bit of money to an account so that everyone could take turns borrowing it. The Achempong family used the money to buy fruit to sell. When they paid the loan, the Duodu family borrowed the money for a sewing machine. When it was Kojo’s mother’s turn, she bought a cart so she could gather more firewood to sell at the market.

After she bought the cart, there were a few coins left and Kojo asked if he could borrow them. Taking the coins, Kojo bought a fat brown hen. Surely, he could sell her eggs at the market. Some day, he decided, he would have so many hens that he would need many helpers to gather eggs.
Kojo could almost see the future and it was good.

Slowly over time, Kojo’s one hen became ten hens and then a hundred. As his business grew, his ideas grew, too. A kind banker loaned Kojo some money for a few acres and a henhouse, and Kojo started a farm. Soon, many people worked at Kojo’s farm and the money he paid them allowed them to build houses, raise strong families, and make their own futures even brighter.

Are your kids always after you for the latest… whatever? Sit them down, read “One Hen” aloud, and get them thinking about their place at the global table.

In this wonderful tale loosely based on truth, author Katie Smith Milway tells Kojo’s story in a way that allows kids to identify with a boy halfway around the world. More importantly, “One Hen” will help them understand how small steps can make big differences. Add in vibrant illustrations by Eugenie Fernandes, and you’ve got a book that will start a great conversation about making the world a better place.

If you’re looking to uncover a budding philanthropist in your household, pick up “One Hen” and share it with your child. See if he or she doesn’t want to reach out and help feather someone else’s nest.