Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 29, 2021

Book Giveaway: WALKING FOR WATER: How One Boy Stood Up for Gender Equality by Susan Hughes

Susan Hughes has a new picture book WALKING FOR WATER, illustrated by Nicole Miles and published by Kids Can Press. They have agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Susan and Nicole.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and receive an extra ticket. Thanks!


In this inspiring story of individual activism, a boy recognizes gender inequality when his sister must stop attending school — and decides to do something about it. Victor is very close to his twin sister, Linesi. But now that they have turned eight years old, she no longer goes to school with him. Instead, Linesi, like the other older girls in their community, walks to the river to get water five times a day, to give their mother more time for farming. Victor knows this is the way it has always been. But he has begun learning about equality at school, and his teacher has asked the class to consider whether boys and girls are treated equally. Though he never thought about it before, Victor realizes they’re not. And it’s not fair to his sister. So Victor comes up with a plan to help.

Based on a true story of a Malawian boy, award-winning author Susan Hughes’s inspiring book celebrates how one person can make a big difference in the lives of others. It’s a perfect starting point for children to explore themes of gender inequality and unequal access to education, as well as the lack of clean water in some parts of the world. Nicole Miles’s appealing artwork in this graphic novel / picture book hybrid format adds emotional context to the story. Also included are information about education and water availability in Malawi, resources and a glossary of Chichewa words. Part of the CitizenKid collection and featuring a growth mindset, this important book has links to social studies lessons on global communities and cultures, as well as to character education lessons on initiative, fairness and adaptability.


Back in 2017, I was doing some online research for a children’s story I was working on when I happened across a remarkable photo essay written by a journalist named Tyler Riewer and with photos by Esther Havens.

The photos were compelling; the words were few but told a powerful story. A young boy in Malawi, learning in school about gender equality, sees his own sister must give up school as soon as she is old enough to collect water for their family. As in many places around the world, in Malawi, walking for water is the traditional role of the girls and women. The boy decides it isn’t fair to his sister and takes action. He begins doing the walk himself, accompanying the girls and women, so his sister now has time to return to school.

I was so impressed with his love for his sister, his sense of justice, and his courage to make a difference.

I decided this story needed to be shared with young readers and I got to work writing a manuscript. While working on it, I contacted Tyler Riewer, the journalist who wrote the online essay. I asked if he was okay with me using his story for inspiration and basing the story on this real child. I explained I would be adding dialogue to the story and tweaking some of the content to provide context to young readers. Tyler said he thought it was a lovely idea, suggested changing the boy’s name to protect his privacy, and offered to provide details and try to answer any questions.

Of course, I took him up on this, peppering him with questions as my story took shape, and he was really great about answering as many of them as he could. He helped guide me what he had observed and experienced during his time in Malawi so the story could be as authentic as possible.

When it was done, I sent it along to Yvette Ghione, then Editorial Director at Kids Can Press. I suggested it would be a good fit for their Citizen Kid series, which is “a collection of books that inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens.”  Five days later, Yvette wrote back to tell me of her interest and asking if I’d like to work with editor Stacey Roderick on developing the story further before it went to an acquisition meeting.

Would I? Of course!

Stacey had many wonderful suggestions about the text, as always, and so when it was eventually presented to the acquisition team, they liked the story very much (yay!) and in July 2018, the story was contracted.

Stacey and I continued to polish the manuscript. In fact, Kids Can suggested they would like to have it illustrated with panels, almost like a graphic novel picture book. This was such a super idea—so appealing to younger kids! We revised the text to work with this new format, and meanwhile Kathleen Keenan, one of the super in-house Kids Can editors, came onboard the project.

I was so excited when she told me that Nicole Miles would be illustrating the story. Have a look at the interior page images here in this blog and you’ll know why. Nicole’s art is colorful, vibrant, and inviting—so perfect for a story which gently explores some challenging and vital concepts gender: equality and water security.

As well, thanks to a connection kindly set up by Allen LeBlanc, director of the literacy NGO CODE, I was able to get in touch with Malawian-born journalist Victoria Maele who readily agreed to read and authenticate several drafts of the manuscript, including the final one. Malawian professor Lucinda Manda-Taylor generously offered her time to read the final manuscript and review the illustrations, making sure they accurately reflected what life in a village in this specific part of Malawi was like. Wherever they found mistakes or discrepancies in the story or illustrations, we changed these details. And I was grateful for the assistance of Professor Sam McChombo, an expert in the Malawian language Chichewa. He checked I was using the correct words in the text and helped create a pronunciation guide so readers can say the words aloud.

I could go on and on, sharing more details and enthusing about how much I enjoyed working on this project with so many experienced and supportive experts!


Susan Hughes has always loved writing. When in grade five and six, she and several friends had a writing club. They met every few weeks and read aloud their poems and stories to one another. They always began by pointing out something they liked about each piece of writing; and they always learned a lot from each other’s critiques. She and another friend wrote stories and non-fiction articles and created many issues of their self-published The Horse and Bridle Club magazine. They even sold copies to friends at school and the stable where they took riding lessons!

After finishing a university degree in English at the University of Toronto, Susan was thrilled to work at a children’s publishing company where she had the opportunity to research, fact-check, write, edit, and proofread—seeing books through from the concept stage to the final in-hand product. It was thrilling! She also began to work on her own stories and submit them to editors at traditional publishing companies.

Soon after, Susan began freelancing—and she has never stopped! An editor, story coach, writer and author, Susan works with writers, both novice and experienced, providing critiques and developmental edits, and guiding them in their writing practice. She also works with educational and independent publishers to develop books for children on topics from geography and history to science and Aboriginal studies for a wide range of grade levels. She writes commissioned stories and articles for many clients.

Susan is thrilled to have more than 30 traditionally published children’s books, including picture books, chapter books, MG novels, young adult novels, both fiction and non-fiction for all ages, with publishers such as Scholastic Canada, Kids Can Press, Owl Kids Books, and Annick Press. Her books have received multiple nominations for awards, including the Forest of Reading awards, the TD Children’s Literature Awards, and the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Literature.

She has been delighted to serve as juror for many book awards and volunteer her expertise with CODE and the CNIB.


Twitter: @childbkauthor




Nicole Miles is an illustrator + cartoonist + hand-letterer + designer

Nicole is from The Bahamas, but she is currently living in West Yorkshire (UK) with her pet snake and human boyfriend. After five and a half years of designing cards for Hallmark UK, she jumped into full-time freelance life in January of 2020. She’s worked with a variety of clients including the New York TimesBuzzfeedSeal PressDavid Fickling BooksAARP Sisters LetterBust Magazine and Bitch Magazine. My comic Barbara (ShortBox, 2017) was nominated for an Eisner award.

She has been asked to speak to BA Hons Illustration students at Cardiff Metropolitan University (several times) as well as at the Afro Futures Un-conference (2019) in Birmingham. In 2018, Nicole became a Special Visiting Lecturer for Sheffield Hallam University where she gets great pleasure in doing occasional teaching sessions with first year illustration students.

Her favourite form of procrasti-working is always some sort of creation whether it be bettering her hand-lettering, making animated gifs, chronicling silly life moments or informative sustainability tips in comic form, experimenting with film photography or sewing new garments for herself. But she also dedicate a lot of time to improving her second language (French), reading and, recently, going on forest walks.

Thank you Susan for sharing your book and journey with us. I love how you discovered this true story and knew it had to be told. It inspired you and now I am sure, Walking For Water will inspired children to be courageous like the young boy in your book. Who knows how many children will be inspired to make a difference in this world, all because you found that article and shared the story with all of us. Nicole did a wonderful job bringing life to this story. Good luck with the book!   

Talk tomorrow,



  1. what a wonderful story and illustrations

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing how many things you did to authenticate this story. Congratulations!

    Sharing on Twitter and I follow by email.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful book! I can’t wait to check this one out, best of luck with it
    : )

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congrats, Susan and Nicole! This book sounds awesome. (I’m signed up for the emails as well.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed reading how this author was researching for another book and found this inspiring article. I am going to enjoy reading this beautiful book. I’m an email subscriber and shared on social:

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve heard some similar stories before so I’m glad to see there’s now a book so our kids can read about it too. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
    I’ve tweeted:, and shared:
    I also follow daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com.
    Thanks again, have a great day!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a special and powerful story. Thanks for sharing the journey and how others were involved in the process. I love this! Great work, Susan. Congrats to you and Nicole!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This sounds like a great addition to a classroom multi-cultural library.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congratulations Susan and Nicole! I love books about kids making changes in the world!

    I shared on Twitter and I get the blog daily.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I loved reading how you learned about this story, Susan and how you followed up to share it with children. Can’t wait to read it!


  11. Really wonderful story! Congratulations, Susan!!


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