Feedback of Mr. Romel Obinario, Academic Team Head and Institutional Values Formation Program Head Laguna BelAir School on PaperTigers: Books+Water Book Sets

Thursday, January 31st, 2013
Continuing our focus on WaterBridge Outreach participants Laguna BelAir School, today we feature the inspiring feedback of Mr. Romel Obinario, Academic Team Head and Institutional Values Formation Program Head.

At the heart of every PaperTigers book is a message for all of humanity. The message each book conveys is relevant, timeless, and transcends the boundaries set by current economic, political, or cultural constructs that continue to impinge on the way peoples of the world interact today.

We at Laguna BelAir School have realized the affinity between our core values and those of the PaperTigers (PT) organization, as conveyed in the PT books that the organization has sent us. By sharing the PT books with our students, we are also imparting our core values in a way that is not awkward and forced. Through the books, they may realize that the things we say we value are not simply words to be memorized but are ideals that other people cherish and live out. Through their constant exposure to these wonderful books, and their continuous experiences in the school’s different advocacies, they may truly become what we wish them to be – stewards for a better world.

Thank you, Paper Tigers, for involving us in your outreach program. We share in Wangari Maathai’s (Planting the Trees of Kenya) advocacy of caring for the environment by planting trees and in her belief in women and in communities working together to bring about much-needed reforms. We are inspired by Kojo’s (One Hen) example of thrift and of making a difference one small step at a time. The way we view people with cultures or beliefs other than ours is challenged by the way friendship is forged between Abaani and Haki (First Come the Zebra), thereby promoting peaceful coexistence. And we are truly inspired by the boy (A Child’s Garden: A Story of Hope) who despite all adversity finds hope for a better future in a war-ravaged land.

Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach and feedback from Westwood School in Port Coquitlam, BC, Canada

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012


The Spirit of PaperTigers (SPT) Outreach program seeks to further the overall goals of the PaperTigers Program: bridging cultures and opening minds, promoting greater understanding and empathy among young people from different backgrounds, countries, and ethnicities. More specifically, SPT outreach works to advance education through books and reading, and development through clean and accessible water.

Since 2009, the PaperTigers Program has put books into the hands of young readers through schools and libraries, encouraging literacy, developing understanding and making reading a lifelong habit.  Taking this work a step further, SPT outreach is seeking to ensure that, in areas where there is water stress or water scarcity, the children to whom the books are sent will have access to clean water and good sanitation. The possibility of effective education in certain parts of the world is linked to the basic realities of food and water.  By focusing on books and water together – nourishing both the mind and body – SPT continues to promote literacy and encourage children to become “hungry readers.”   Thus our Outreach motto: “Through Books and Water, Education and Development.”

For more information please head on over to our Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach page and be sure to read the latest feedback (and see photos!)  from Westwood Elementary School in Port Coquitlam, BC, Canada!


New Spirit of PaperTigers Feedback: LAGUNA BEL AIR SCHOOL ~ City of Santa Rosa, Laguna, Philippines

Sunday, July 10th, 2011


Head on over to the Spirit of PaperTigers site to see feedback from the Laguna Bel Air School, City of Santa Rosa, Laguna, Philippines. Students in Grades 3 though 6 provided their comments on the books in the 2010 Spirit of PaperTigers Book Set. Here is a sampling of what they wrote:

Planting the Trees of Kenya

KY, Grade 4: I recommend this book because it shows concern for our mother earth and nature. It shows us how to protect and plant trees, so that we can help the environment.

Little Leap Forward: A Boy in Beijing

MZM, Grade 5: My favorite part is when Little Leap Forward’s father told him that ‘With your music and your imagination, you can travel anywhere; you will always be free’ because it’s very inspiring and also because I’m a musician, too.

CM, Grade 5: My favorite illustration is when Little Little and Little Leap Forward are lying down on the riverbank. It shows that both of them are free and are best friends. When I do what both of them are doing, I will focus on the sky and realize that I still have to do many things before I reach heaven.

AJA, Grade 6: I really like Little Leap Forward because he is kind to his family, friends, pet bird (Little Cloud), and most especially to Blue. He did everything just to let Little Cloud sing. He even let go of her just to be happy and to sing. I will always remember these words from Little Leap Forward: “Wouldn’t you rather be free, just for a day, than spend a lifetime in a cage?”.

VAdR, Grade 6: My favorite chapter is ‘Autumn Song’ because it shows that Little Leap Forward finally gets his wish: to play the flute along with Little Cloud. He played the bamboo flute by just letting the music out from his heart, which for me is the most beautiful music of all.

One Hen

KMS, Grade 3: I like Kojo because he wanted to save money for their needs.

EA, Grade 3: I like the illustrations because they’re all very, very creative.


Announcing new Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach area on the PaperTigers website

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Today we hope you will join with us in celebrating the launch of our new Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach website.

On the front page you will find an interactive world map showing all the SPT participants, who are also listed alphabetically and by country. On the feedback pages, you will be now not only be able to read comments from teachers and students, but where available, you will also be able to watch slideshows and enlarge images to view children’s work. All information about the project, including our Mission Statement and annual Book Set can be found in the About Us section.

Over the next few weeks we will be adding more and more feedback from SPT participants around the world. In the meantime, as well as feedback which was already available from Agape School and Mountain View School, both in Nagaland, India, and Woodlands School in Montevideo, Uruguay, you will now find newly posted feedback from the following schools:

Monroe and Fairmount Elementary Schools in San Francisco, California, USA:

“Two books were a HUGE hit, One Hen and First Come the Zebra.

With One Hen, the kids want MORE… They want to know how much of this story is true, and what has happened since the story was written They loved the idea of the domino effect of helping each other, and related it to their own classrooms and how things work better when they all pitch in. I read this book to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.

I believe that First Come the Zebra was a huge hit, because the kids can relate to the happenings in the books, especially the conflict between the two boys. They were full of questions and, of course, gave personal anecdotes of times when they were in those situations…”

Pingliang Road No. 3 Elementary School in Shanghai, China:

“Our favorite book was First Come the Zebra […] They enjoyed the book very much. Their interest partly came from the pictures, the English words and expressions. In the book, there are very different ways to express the ideas from Chinese. Sometimes it has idioms to express the meaning. We don’t know much of English idiomatic expressions in our daily life.”

and Talisay Elementary School in Agusan del Norte, Philippines

“The story about One Hen is so very beautiful. I learned many things about it. Someday I want to be like Kojo because I was inspired by his life.”

First Come the Zebra: “And if you have an enemy in your neighborhood, just give them a chance so that you can win them as friends. That’s why chances are very important.”

“I like the story One Hen because it gives me example of all the families in one province who are helping each other. And it makes me brave that I can make myself fight my shyness.”

Don’t you just love the photos – and there are some very special comments too. Head on over to the Spirit of PaperTigers Outreach site to read more and explore the project. We’ll be bringing you more feedback soon, including one of our water projects…

World Earth Day: Interview with Katie Smith Milway, author of The Good Garden

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Last year we spoke to Katie Smith Milway about her first solo children’s book One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference, selected for the Spirit of PaperTigers 2010 Book Set; it’s great to welcome her back now to talk about her latest book The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough, which promises to be equally life-changing and life-affirming as One Hen. The Good Garden is illustrated by Sylvie Daigneault and, like One Hen, is published by Kids Can Press as part of their superb CitizenKid series.

Katie is a partner at the Bridgespan Group, an advisory to nonprofits and philanthropy. She has written many books and articles on sustainable development and has coordinated community development programs in Africa and Latin America for Food for the Hungry International. She is also the co-author with her mother Mary Ann Smith of Cappuccina Goes to Town (Kids Can Press, 2002), as well as the non-fiction book The Human Farm: A Tale of Changing Lives & Changing Lands (Kumarian Press/Stylus Publishing,1994).

Katie lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA.


In your interview with PaperTigers last year, while touching upon the then forthcoming The Good Garden, you said, “In an era of food crisis, any child can play their part in their home or school garden, or in supporting poor farmers through acts of giving.” How have you aimed at getting that message across in the book?

The Good Garden is based on true people and events, and portrays the life of a campesino family in Honduras. They, like so many small farmers around the world eke out barely enough to live on – in a good year – and are highly vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition, when weather or insects create havoc. This family’s life is transformed, however, when a new teacher, Don Pedro, comes to the village school and gets the family’s daughter, María Luz Duarte, to help him plant a school garden – which he not only uses to teach students their basic subjects, but moreover to teach simple, sustainable agriculture methods that they can apply using their innate human resources: their heads, hands and heart. Through the caring labor of composting, terracing the hillside, planting beans among corn to keep soil nutrients in balance, and even dotting the terraces with flowers that smell bad to bugs, students see their school garden thrive on land that they all thought was too poor to keep them going. María Luz and others bring the learning home to their farms, improve their crops and grow in confidence about taking their own produce to market as opposed to selling to unfair middlemen – called “coyotes” in Honduras – who scoop profits. The knowledge they glean in the marketplace triggers another cycle of learning and innovation. Most importantly, the way the family shares what they have learned – passes it forward – ultimately transforms village after village.

So on one hand, kids see many acts of giving within the story – from teacher to student, from student to family and from family to family. At the back of the book, however, we offer practical ways that kids can help local food banks and community gardens, or give to international organizations like World Vision or Heifer International that provide seeds, tools and farm animals to families that need them. On our website, kids can learn more and join a national food drive.

What else do you hope children will find inspirational in the book, which is based on the true story of Honduran teacher Don Elías, who had a profound affect not only on his pupils, but also on the whole community, through spreading his practical knowledge of what was needed to create sustainable farmland?

I hope kids will feel empowered to apply their heads, hands and hearts to any problem to help themselves and others. And I especially hope The Good Garden interests them in combating world hunger – ideas for action are listed at the back of the book. I also hope we see even more school, community and family gardens sprouting up – so kids can identify, if only in a small way, with the billions of poor in our world who live off the land, and so they can experience the satisfaction and nutrition of self-grown produce.

As I was completing The Good Garden manuscript in spring 2009, two of my kids got interested in planting a vegetable garden, and so we’ve had a miniature farming experience ourselves. The kids worked their tails off planting, watering and weeding. They harvested corn, Brussels sprouts and cucumbers, but bugs and shade killed most of the peppers and tomatoes. This summer, Brendan (15) and Mary Kate (12) expanded the garden for maximum sunlight and planted marigolds to repel the bugs. We’ve had great peppers, tomatoes and eggplants, but a varmint got through the fencing and decimated the corn patch. All to say, we have learned how good home-grown food can be, but also the tenuousness of growing it. We would starve without groceries!

The Good Garden has only been out for a few months but have you already heard about schools using it as a springboard for their own projects?

Absolutely. Here are a few anecdotes: (more…)