Cover image for My rows and piles of coins
My rows and piles of coins
Mollel, Tololwa M. (Tololwa Marti)
Publication Information:
New York : Clarion Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
32 pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm
A Tanzanian boy saves his coins to buy a bicycle so that he can help his parents carry goods to market, but then he discovers that in spite of all he has saved, he still does not have enough money.
Reading Level:
AD 700 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.8 0.5 34506.

Reading Counts RC K-2 4.1 2 Quiz: 18599 Guided reading level: P.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC.BK Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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"I emptied my secret money box, arranged the coins in piles and the piles in rows . . ." The market is full of wonderful things, but Saruni is saving his precious coins for a red and blue bicycle. How happy he will be when he can help his mother carry heavy loads to market on his very own bicycle--and how disappointed he is to discover that he hasn't saved nearly enough! Determination and generosity are at the heart of this satisfying tale, set in Tanzania and illustrated with glowing watercolors that capture the warmth of Saruni's family and the excitement of market day.

Author Notes

Tololwa Mollel was born in Tanzania in 1952. He grew up in Arusha Tanzania at the times when oral tradition was still alive and well. Mollel received his undergraduate degree from the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, and his masters degree from the University of Alberta, Edmonton. He has worked as an actor and university theatre instructor in Tanzania and Canada and as a writer-in-residence for the Edmonton Public Library.

It was not untill Mollel went to study in Canada that he realized the depth of experience related in the stories his grandfather told him. The Orphan boy is one of his best story books, it won the Canadian Governor General's Award in 1990. Mollel has also won the Writers Guild of Alberta's R. Ross Annett Children's Prize for Big Boy in 1995. He was Shortlisted for Ontario's Silver Birch Award for The Flying Tortoise in 1994, and he won the Florida Reading Association Award for Rhinos for Lunch and Elephants for Supper!

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4^-8. Mollel draws on his own Tanzanian childhood for this story of a boy, Saruni, who works hard, saves all his coins for months and months, and dreams of buying a bicycle--only to discover that he does not have nearly enough money. Many children will relate to what it's like to save, plan, and count towards a dream ("I emptied the box, arranged the coins in piles and the piles in rows. Then I counted the coins and thought about the bicycle I longed to buy"). As in his stunning watercolors for Echewa's The Magic Tree: A Folktale from Nigeria [BKL Je 1 & 15 99], Lewis' paintings root the story in the particulars of the contemporary village and landscape. Through the child's eyes, the scenes move from the busy market, where Saruni helps his mother, to his home among the coffee trees, and to pictures of him wobbling and falling as he learns to ride his father's bicycle every day after school. The boy is too perfect--he wants the bicycle to lighten his mother's load--but the pictures quietly express his bond with his mother in work and in love. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

The creators of Big Boy place this story of a resourceful and thoughtful boy in the 1960s Tanzania of Mollel's childhood. Saruni receives coins from his mother for helping her to cart goods to town each market day. His goal is to save enough money to buy a bicycle to transport these loads more efficiently and to run other errands for his parents. While his savings accumulate in his "secret money box," the child determinedly practices on his father's bike, first learning to ride without falling and then to balance a load of vegetables on the bike. One day Saruni feels he has collected enough money to buy a new bike, but his hopes are dashed by the scornful laughter of the bicycle vendor. Luckily, the boy's father announces that it is just the right amount of money to purchase his bicycle (and then returns the money to his son). In an ending that makes this selfless hero an inspiration to readers, Saruni contemplates using his savings to buy a cart to pull behind his bike, to further lighten the loads his mother must carry. Lewis's engaging and lifelike paintings convincingly portray a range of images and emotions, including the verdant Tanzanian landscape and bustling marketplace, and, most affectingly, the strong bond between this boy and his loving parents. Ages 5-8. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 3-A warm family story set in Tanzania in the 1960s. Saruni is a picture of determination as he learns to ride his father's big bicycle and saves his small earnings to buy one of his own in order to help his mother deliver her goods to market. After months of work, he takes his coins to the bicycle seller, who adds them up and responds with humiliating laughter. However, Saruni is rewarded when his father buys a motorbike and "sells" his old bicycle to his son. In the end, Saruni's parents refuse his payment, preferring to give him the bike as a reward for his help. At story's end, he is again saving his coins-this time to buy a cart to pull behind his bicycle and further lighten his mother's load. The first-person story contains several universal childhood experiences: the pride in persevering and gaining a new skill and in making an unselfish contribution to the family. Since the narrative focus is on the boy's own goals, the story is natural and never excessively moralistic. The fluid, light-splashed watercolor illustrations lend a sense of place and authenticity. Watching Saruni's savings mount visually is a nice touch. A short glossary gives the meaning and pronunciation of frequently used words. Deft and effective.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.