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14 Cows for America

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  3,281 ratings  ·  645 reviews
In June of 2002, a ceremony begins in a village in western Kenya. Hundreds of Maasai surround an American diplomat to bestow a gift on the American people. The gift is as unsought and unexpected as it is extraordinary. A mere nine months have passed since the September 11 attacks, and hearts are raw. Tears flow freely as these legendary warriors offer their gift to a griev ...more
Hardcover, 36 pages
Published August 1st 2009 by Peachtree Publishing Company
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Average rating 4.32  · 
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 ·  3,281 ratings  ·  645 reviews

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Jan 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Carmen Agra Deedy’s 14 Cows For American is the true heart-wrenching story of Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah, an African medical student studying in New York when the twin towers burned on 911. He returns to his Maasai tribe and retells the story in the hopes that the elders will bless the cow he worked so hard to purchase for his mother but now decides to give to America. As Kimeli Naiyomah explains, his tribe taught him that, ”to heal the pain in someone’s heart, you give something that is close to yo ...more
Kayla Edwards
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This a beautiful story about the incredible generosity of a village towards a country they have never known. It reminds us how precious and bittersweet a gift it is to share the burden of grief.
Sep 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
As with any tragedy, in the years following the wake of September 11th a spate of books came out discussing, dissecting, and generally trying to make sense of what occurred. In this the children’s literary world and the adult literary world were very much alike. Picture books in particular took a great deal of interest in making the events palatable to young impressionable minds. The results were mixed. The general consensus was to write titles that focused on the human moments that surrounded t ...more
Cassie Cox
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This picture book was recommended by a presenter at NCTE. I made a huge book order upon returning from Minneapolis, and I'm slowly making my way through this purchase. Today I finally picked up this book, and I loved it. It is so easy to remain caught up with only those things set right before our eyes, but we're all connected. Humanity. People can be so amazing, and this book is a reminder that we can make a positive difference in the world, regardless of our situation--or location--in life, an ...more
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Children's Books Reacting to & About 9/11
It's difficult to think of a topic more widely canvassed, in recent years, than the events of September 11, 2001, and the causes, meanings, and ramifications thereof. Everyone - from the "pride goeth before a fall" lot, who blame U.S. foreign policy for the attacks, to the "clash of civilizations" crowd, who look to the inherent evil of the cultures and religion which produced the terrorists for a cause - has an opinion. It may sound odd, given the current omnipresence of this event in our publi ...more
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mini-unit
Author: Carmen Agra Deedy
Illustrator: Thomas Gonzalez
Illustrations done in pastels, colored pencils, and airbrush on 100% rag archival watercolor paper.
Award(s)/Honor(s): NSSTB 2010; SSLH 2010
Grades: (Reading level: 3-5) Used as part of text set for 8th grade.

Summary: This is a moving story about a remote tribe in Kenya called the Maasai and their touching gift to America after the September 11th attacks.

Theme: This book offers its readers a look into the thoughts and sincere longing of the Ma
Lauren Ritcey
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Genre: Multicultural
Awards: Parent's Choice Gold Award
Grade Level: 1-6
Comments: I would read this book to my classroom on September 11. I would use it to promote discussion with my students on what they know about 9/11. I would also discuss the idea of different parts of the world coming together to memorialize on an important day. I think that would build such a connection in the students mind knowing that the entire world can come together to be supportive of one another. I could also bring th
Sep 16, 2015 rated it did not like it
I do not this story because I do not like these kinds of stories.
14 Cows for America, written by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez, is a story about the compassion shown to the American community in the wake of the September 11th attacks on America. Kenyan born Kimeli Naiyomah was living in New York on September 11, 2001 and experienced the horror felt by all of America on that day. The following spring, he returned to his Maasai village and told shared his experiences with his Kenyan community. In a culture where a cow is the most sacred p ...more
CH13_Meghan Schultz
14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra details the story of Kimeli Naiyomah, a man who grew up in a small village in Kenya, but eventually moved to the United States in order to obtain a degree from Stanford University. The story details Kimeli’s journey home after the 9/11 tragedy, and his interaction with the people of his village after retelling the horrific events.

This story does a wonderful job portraying the message that all can lend aid in a time of need and that suffering of humanity is univ
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mc-literature
I was moved by this picture book. It tells us the story of Kimeli, a Maasai man, who returned to his home village for a time as he was studying to be a doctor. When he returns, his people ask for a story and he provides them with one of the attacks of September 11th. The Maasai respond with a stunning and inspirational gift of what they hold most dear; cows; fourteen, in fact.

It takes talented authors to write about such an emotional event as September 11th in a manner that is understandable to
Mary-Haven Von Lehmden
14 Cows for America is a moving story that shows how kindness can break the barriers between different countries and cultures. This story follows the main character, Kimeli, as he ventures home to a small village in Kenya. When he arrives he tells the villagers the story of what happened in America on 9/11. His village is moved by the story and wants to offer their condolences to America with a sacred gift!

This book could be used in many ways to teach in the classroom:
-Discuss Kenyan culture. Ex
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
This book is eye-opening and gives a different perspective of 9/11, in the way that it comes from Kimeli, a young man who was born in Kenya but now lives in America and was there during the incident in September of 2001. 14 Cows for America deals with a village in Kenya, the Maasai people, who are helping to assist America in hopes to help heal their pain, just a mere 9 months after the 9/11 attacks. It's amazing what can be done with countries and their friendships, with just 14 cows.
I would u
Diana Hanke
Dec 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful story of human compassion and sacrifice. 14 Cows for America tells the story of a young man,Kimeli, who belongs to the Maasai, nomadic hunters who live in a small village in Kenya. He has left his beloved village to study in America. While in New York City, he experiences the devastation of September 11th. It breaks his heart, and in his desire to share hope with those who lost so much, he vows to sacrifice his only cow. Cows to the Maasai are life. They raise them and love them ...more
Paige Christianson
"14 Cows for America" by Carmen Agra Deedy was a wonderful informational story about how September 11, 2001 affected not only the United States but the entire globe. It tells the true story of a man who comes from a Maasai village in Africa to study in America during the time of 9/11. He then returns to his village to tell his family and friends about the event, and they decide to show their respect and sympathy to Americans by "giving" 14 cows to the American diplomat of their country. Cows are ...more
Nicole Isernio
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
This is a heartwarming story of the Maasai Tribe and the incredible gift they give to another country. Set in western Kenya, the cow is the way of life for these people and they treat them with great respect and honor. One of the tribe members, Kimeli is studying in New York City when the September 11th Attacks occurred and is decides he must do something to help. He returns to Kenya and informs his tribe of the catastrophe that has occurred in the United States. Kimeli decides he will offer his ...more
Aly Gutierrez
Sep 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A warrior made a perilous journey home to Kenya. People cried when they realized he was home. The Maasai tribe believes that the cattle are life. Without the cattle, the tribe would not survive. This warrior gathered the town to tell them what he has seen. Everyone gathers under an acacia tree; which is the tribe’s tradition. The tribe relays the message to the US embassy. They sent an American diplomat who was greeted with a celebration by the tribe. They gave him fourteen cows. No nation is u ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
My Thoughts:

Whew! What a life-affirming story! It gives you hope for the world.
The pictures are up close and personal. The text is vivid and rings with compassion for the world.

Here’s the story, if you don’t know it: A Kenyan wins a scholarship to go to America and become a doctor. While he is there, he experiences 9/11. He returns to his people, a tribe once renowned as warriors but who are now known as master cow herders. The tribe feels great sorrow when the young man tells them of the traged
Sandy Brehl
The original circumstances and individuals on which this book is based probe deeply into the pain of September 11 and the power of individuals to respond to tragedy in meaningful ways. The summary above is one of the best I've read on Goodreads and so I won't repeat details of the contents. The quality of the images, storytelling, and essential values of the book justify its inclusion in any collection- personal, home, or school.
I will add, though, that this would make an excellent exemplar text
JJ Jones
May 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rll529-africa
14 Cows For America is a fascinating look at how an event in America’s history affected a remote village in Africa thousands of miles away. A young man from a remote village in Kenya returns home for a visit. He is studying to be a doctor in New York, and 9/11 was just a few months past. He retells the devastation of that day to the elders in his village, and they come together to offer a gift of hope to America; 14 sacred cows.
The story and the illustrations work together to show a different r
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical-fic
14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy

This is a picture book that reflects the true events that took place on September 11, 2001. The story is narrated by a young man named Kimeli who had been studying in New York to become a doctor when the tragedy of September 11th occurred. Kimeli shared what happened that day with his village Maasai in Kenya. When they heard the story, they felt deeply sad for the American people and they blessed and offered 14 healing sacred cows to the American people as
Jessica Lee
Dec 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This novel was truly astounding. It really made a huge impression on me and touched my heart in many ways. I loved the story and how it really brought to light that when America was going through a hard time, there were countries who were giving their most prized possessions to lend us a hand in our time of need. I loved that this book not only showed two different cultures separately, but how it brought them together. The illustrations did an amazing job on showing the stark contrasts between t ...more
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
1. Genre: Multicultural
2. Awards: Beehive award, Best Book for Kids (multicultural category, Best Children's Book of the Year, Bluestem Book Award, CCBC Choices (Historical People, Places and Events, Comstock Book Award, E.B. White Read-Aloud Honor, Land of Enchantment Book Awards, Notable Books for a Global Society, Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, Parents’ Choice Gold Award, Society of School Librarians International Book Awards (honor book, Social Studies K-6), Teachers’
Sep 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read2015
We really liked how the Maasai people gave cows in honor of America! It's nice that they gave what they had, since they didn't have lots of money to give. We loved the big, colorful pictures! They really helped us learn about the Maasai people. We also liked seeing how people in different countries can connect with each other, and how very different cultures can feel the same way when something bad happens.

However, it was hard to read a story about 9/11. That was such a bad tragedy, and it star
Jul 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: text-set
14 Cows for America is the heart warming story of how an african village unites to donate 14 precious cows to an american diplomat as a way to show their compassion for the American people in the aftermath of september 11th. Kimeli Naiyomah, a member of the village who moved to America describes the horrors of 9/11 to the members of his community. In an effort help heal the american people, the villagers decide individually to donate 14 cows- a symbol of life and security to the Americans. Greet ...more
Jul 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing story, told in picture book form, about how a tribe in Africa responded to the events of September 11, 2001. It is so inspiring and heart warming to read about how this tribe was so heart broken about how terrorists harmed our country on that day that they opened their own hearts to America. One of their tribesmen had come to America to go to school and had gone back to visit - telling them of the events about 6 months after it happened. The artwork is gorgeous and I love this ...more
Anna Smith
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Book summary: A young man travels to America to get an education to be a doctor and during this time frame a tragedy happened in America. On September 11th the twin tours were attacked. He along with America were heart broken. He traveled back to his home land and he sat his people around a tree and told them a tale of the pain America felt. They decided to give their 14 cows to The US Embassy as an offering of peace and love. The cows are still being taken care of by the Tribe.
Grade level: 1st-
Jul 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One nation is mourning and another one wants to help--but this is not your everyday international aid story. A young man named Kimeli returns home to his Maasai village in Kenya with a story to tell. The story is about the events that took place in New York City, September 11, 2001. The Maasai people are moved by the story and want to offer a gesture of comfort and friendship. The gift connects two cultures in a very special way.

14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy (Illustrated by Thomas Gon
Amber M
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fab-40-file
Genre: Multicultural

Awards: Cybils Award Nominee for Nonfiction Picture Books (2009), Parents' Choice Gold Award (2009), Comstock Read Aloud Book Award (2010)

Grade: 3-4

This book will allow the students to see how other cultures felt and dealt with the events of 9/11. Since the book is about a tribe in Kenya it will also allow us to explore Africa and their culture. There are several themes associated with this book: giving, compassion, friendship, and symbolism. For a follow up activity I would
Very few people knew of the Maasai tribe's gesture to the United States after the tragedy of 9/11 -- a gift of 14 cows. As Deedy observes:

"Once they were feared warrirors. Now they live peacably as nomadic cattle herders. They treat their cows as kindly as they do their children. /They sing to them. They give them names. They shelter the young ones in their homes. Without the herd, the tribe might starve./ To the Maasai, the cow is life."

I could never read this book aloud to an audience.
I would
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Carmen Agra Deedy is an internationally known author of children’s literature, a storyteller and radio contributor. Born in Havana, Cuba, she immigrated to the United States with her family in 1963 after the Cuban Revolution. Deedy grew up in Decatur, Georgia and currently lives in Atlanta and has three daughters.

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