Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the fifteenth one: “Paul Kishosha’s Children” by Ken Edgett:
“To summarize, we’re expecting a little light rain in the morning and partly cloudy conditions this afternoon with a high of twenty-eight. Tonight, overcast with a low around sixteen. Up next on StarTV MorningStar News, we’ll meet Doctor Paul Kishosha, creator of Joe the Martian’s Adventures, a new show airing each Saturday morning at nine, here on StarTV,” the beautiful young anchorwoman, Teresia Bilame, teased.
During the commercial break for Coca-Cola, HIV prevention, and wireless smartphone services, I was directed to put out my cigarette and join Miss Bilame on a set that resembled a western-style living room—a couch, a couple of comfortable chairs, a coffee table, bookshelves behind the couch, and a television.
Miss Bilame faced one of the cameras and read from the teleprompter, “Welcome back to StarTV MorningStar news.” She smiled and said, “Joining me this morning is Doctor Paul Kishosha, the creative force behind Joe the Martian’s Adventures, a new program running each Saturday morning here on StarTV at nine.”
She turned toward me, “Dr. Kishosha, how are you this morning?”
“Paul, please. And I am well. Very well on this fine Thursday morning, Miss Bilame,” I smiled.
“So, tell me about Joe the Martian. The show has been airing for three weeks, now. How is it going?”
“Uh—so far, very well. Excellent indeed.”
“And your subject is science?”
“Our subject,” I winked, “is entertainment. For children. And their parents and grandparents. Everyone,” I smiled again. “It is an entertaining show with a little sense of humor so that the whole family can enjoy. But, you are right, it is also about science.”
“And, so, what is a typical show like?”
“Each show has a variety of things. There is always an animated piece featuring Joe the Martian and Beauty the Leopard and a visit with a real, east African scientist, doctor, or engineer. We also like to show children doing a science project—like planting trees and flowers in their schoolyard, or setting up a weather station. And there is always an update on what is happening in the sky with the stars, planets, and the moon. We offer tips on disease prevention and protecting the environment, and we like to show something going on in nature—wild gorillas, flamingos on Lake Natron, an erupting volcano, the silence of snowfall on Kilimanjaro, things like that.”
“Let’s see a clip.”
They showed a couple of minutes of the five-minute claymation piece about Joe and Beauty exploring the dunes of Titan. These were compared with the linear dunes on the coast of Namibia, and other dunes in the Sahara. It was from our second episode.
“The Martian,” Miss Bilame smiled, “is really cute. Titan, that is a moon of,” she looked at an actual note card that she picked up from the coffee table, “Saturn, right?”
“Indeed it is, Miss Bilame. A wonderful world orbiting our sixth planet from the Sun.”
“Why, Doctor Kishosha, are the characters rendered in clay? Why not use computers? Is it too expensive?”
“We use clay because it is fun. Kids respond to it. Yes, computer graphics would cost more, but, honestly, clay is more fun. And clay is something a child can work with at home.”
“Speaking of cost, how did you fund your project, Joe the Martian’s Adventures, which runs each Saturday morning here on StarTV at nine?”
Excerpt from “Paul Kishosha’s Children” by Ken Edgett. Copyright © 2010 by Ken Edgett.
Ken Edgett is a geologist whose research has largely focused on the planet Mars. Working at Malin Space Science Systems of San Diego, California, USA, he targeted tens of thousands of images acquired by the Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. In 1997-2002, Edgett was a regular on-air contributor of 1-2 minute science education pieces for a children’s television program, Brainstorm, produced by KTVK-TV in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. He is the co-author of a children’s book, Touchdown Mars!, published in 2000, and his first published short fiction was in the 2008 anthology, Return to Luna, from Hadley Rille Books. In addition to writing, Edgett’s present effort includes that of being the Principal Investigator for a camera aboard the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, launching in 2011.
Paul Kishosha’s Children by Ken Edgett — wow. Wonderfully expressive, clever and amusing, Ken’ s managed to create characters who reflect a humanity we’re in danger of losing. Having fun learning is becoming more and more outdated and he tackles this very well in this story, with its setting in a small school in an African nation. I would make this something for most teachers to read — regardless of their own reading habits! It reminds us that learning can be fun, and learning clever stuff creates enthusiasm and enthusiasm helps work out problems. It sounds simplistic but you have to read it to appreciate where I’m coming from.
A touching story about scientist Paul Kishosha who returns to Tanzania and inspires a country through his stories about Joe the Martian Adventures; wonderful and lyrical.
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