Cunnane, Kelly

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Cunnane, Kelly


Married (marriage ended); children: four. Education: Studied oceanography at Woods Hole Oceanographic Sea Education Program.


Office—University of Maine at Machias, 9 O'Brien Ave., Machias, ME 04654.


Educator and author. University of Maine at Machias, professor of English; teacher of art K-8 for twelve years. Worked previously as an oceanographer in the Caribbean, Peace Corps volunteer, and a teacher of English in China, South America and Africa.


For You Are a Kenyan Child (picture book), illustrated by Ana Juan, Atheneum (New York, NY), 2006.

Work published in anthologies, including In Short, and The Gamut, both edited by Judith Kitchen. Contributor to periodicals, including the Christian Science Monitor.


Mzungu, Heinemann (Sandton, South Africa), 1994, Chelsea House (New York, NY), 1995.

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All Around the World, Heinemann (Sandton, South Africa), 1996.


Kelly Cunnane has many worldly experiences to share with young children, including serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, studying oceanography aboard a research vessel sailing the Carribbean, and teaching English in a variety of countries around the world. She imparts some of these experiences in her children's book For You Are a Kenyan Child. Based on life in a Kenyan village where Cunnane taught while with the Peace Corps, For You Are a Kenyan Child provides young American readers with a unique perspective into the life of their South African counterparts.

For You Are a Kenyan Child centers on the highlights of a young Kenyan boy's day. The book begins by introducing the boy and his mother as the boy is placed in charge of his grandfather's herd of cows. Although he dutifully takes the family herd out to pasture, the youngster's boredom and curiosity overtake his sense of responsibility. Instead of watching cows, he spends much of the day involved in a variety of distractions, including enjoying a hot chepati, chasing a monkey, playing with the village chieftain's ceremonial stick, and kicking a rag ball with a friend. Cunnane incorporates other cultural aspects of Kenyan society into her story by including Swahili phrases to provide "an aural sense of the setting," according to Horn Book reviewer Anita L. Burkam. A critic for Publishers Weekly commented on the buoyancy of Cunnane's tale, noting that the author's "words skip boisterously across the pages." The text, together with illustrations by Ana Juan, creates"a nurturing environment," Burkham added, while in Booklist Gillian Engberg cited the text's "poetic phrases, filled with sensory images." A Kirkus Reviews critic commented of For You Are a Kenyan Child that the hijinks of Cunnane's young hero "mirror those of children everywhere," and described the picture book as "a rare excursion, glowing with love and laughter."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, February 1, 2006, Gillian Engberg, review of For You Are a Kenyan Child, p. 66.

Horn Book, March-April, 2006, Anita L. Burkam, review of For You Are a Kenyan Child, p. 170.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2005, review of For You Are a Kenyan Child, p. 1273.

Publishers Weekly, January 2, 2006, review of For You Are a Kenyan Child, p. 61.


Peace Corps Web site, (December 2, 2006), "Kelly Cunnane."

University of Maine at Machias Web site, (December 2, 2006), "Kelly Cunnane."

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Cunnane, Kelly

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