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Children's Nonfiction Business & Economics

One Hen

How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference

by (author) Katie Smith Milway

illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2008
Business & Economics, Africa
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2008
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2020
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jan 2013
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 7
  • Reading age: 8 to 12


Inspired by true events, One Hen tells the story of Kojo, a boy from Ghana who turns a small loan into a thriving farm and a livelihood for many.

After his father died, Kojo had to quit school to help his mother collect firewood to sell at the market. When his mother receives a loan from some village families, she gives a little money to her son. With this tiny loan, Kojo buys a hen.

A year later, Kojo has built up a flock of 25 hens. With his earnings Kojo is able to return to school. Soon Kojo's farm grows to become the largest in the region.

Kojo's story is inspired by the life of Kwabena Darko, who as a boy started a tiny poultry farm just like Kojo's, which later grew to be the largest in Ghana, and one of the largest in west Africa. Kwabena also started a trust that gives out small loans to people who cannot get a loan from a bank.

One Hen shows what happens when a little help makes a big difference. The final pages of One Hen explain the microloan system and include a list of relevant organizations for children to explore.

One Hen is part of CitizenKid: A collection of books that inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens.

About the authors

Katie Smith Milway, a native of Vancouver, B.C., has coordinated community development programs in Africa and Latin America for Food for the Hungry; consulted on village banking in Senegal with World Vision and was a delegate to the 1992 Earth Summit. She has written books and articles on sustainable development and is currently a partner at nonprofit consultancy The Bridgespan Group, based in Boston, Massachusetts.

Katie Smith Milway's profile page

Née en 1943, près de New York, EUGÉNIE FERNANDES puise son admiration pour les animaux et la nature dans les souvenirs de son enfance. Son inspiration, elle la doit en grande partie à son père, illustrateur de bandes dessinées, avec qui elle passait de longues heures dans son studio. En 1965, elle obtient son diplôme de l'école des Arts Visuels de New York et commence alors sa carrière en tant qu'illustratrice. Eugenie a écrit ou illustré plus de 80 livres dont Grosse journée, petite souris! et Caféolait s'en va-t-en ville. Elle vit aujourd'hui dans le sud de l'Ontario et travaille depuis sa maison dans son studio surplombant un lac et la forêt environnante.



EUGENIE FERNANDES loved exploring the outdoors and making her own little books when she was young. As an adult she has combined these interests by creating books such as Ribbon Rescue, The Tree that Grew to the Moon, Waves in the Bathtub, One More Pet, and Grandpa Dan's Toboggan Ride.



Eugenie is part of a very artistic family. Her father was a comic book illustrator, her husband, Henry Fernandes, is a picture book illustrator who collaborated with her on the book Ordinary Amos and the Amazing Fish, and her two children are also artists. Eugenie lives near Peterborough, Ontario, where she works in a studio that is surrounded by water and woods.


Eugenie Fernandes' profile page


  • Short-listed, Alberta Children's Choice Rocky Mountain Book Award
  • Winner, Golden Oak Award, Ontario Library Association
  • Winner, Outstanding International Book, USBBY
  • Winner, Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre
  • Winner, Children's Choices, International Reading Association
  • Winner, Best Bet for Children and Teens, Ontario Library Association
  • Winner, Children's Africana Book Award, African Studies Association
  • Short-listed, Silver Birch Award, Ontario Library Association
  • Short-listed, Norma Fleck Award, Canadian Children's Book Centre
  • Winner, Notable Book for a Global Society , International Reading Association
  • Winner, Skipping Stones Honor Award
  • Winner, Massachusetts Book Award

Editorial Reviews

The vibrant folkish art by Eugenie Fernandes bursts with color and texture and enhances this uplifting tale of the power of giving someone a chance.

Detroit Free Press

Extremely appealing ... beautifully illustrated in acrylics by award-winning artist Eugenie Fernandes ... Highly recommended ...

Canadian Children's Book News

The text and visuals work individually and together to create a compelling story that is simple without being simplistic and that avoids patronizing attitudes ... the book accomplishes the rare feat of entertaining and educating ... likely to be a hit with both kids and teachers.

Quill & Quire, Starred Review

Bright acrylics fill this spirited picture book ... a pleasing ... purposeful tale about change and hope.

San Francisco Chronicle

... encourages children ages 7 and up to think about the power we each have to initiate positive changes in the world.


... a powerful tale about the value of offering a hand up, instead of a hand out ...

Todays Parent

... Kojo's story, with its vibrant illustrations, will plant more than the germ of an idea in the minds of young readers.

Globe and Mail

... Kojo's inspiring, upbeat microfinance story makes the economic concept easy to grasp and admire. Sunny acrylic illustrations [and]impressionistic full-page art ...


Fernandes's large acrylic paintings ... include numerous details ... [and] spark the imagination. This distinguished book will enhance many curriculum areas.

School Library Journal, Starred Review

... the beneficial effects of small loans and small projects are thoughtfully and carefully explained in the extensive text ... Acrylic illustrations are vivid and lively ...

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

An inviting text and bright acrylic artwork on oversize pages follow Kojo, a rural Ashanti boy, as he builds a poultry farm with a small loan.

School Library Journal, Starred Review

One Hen is emotionally affecting, as well as informative ...

Vancouver Sun

Librarian Reviews

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference

Kids Can Press continues its winning formula of informational picture books with One Hen. It follows in the style of If the World Were A Village, Tree of Life and One Well. I find these books extremely appealing, both for their design and their content. One Hen tells us the story of Kojo, a boy in an African village who uses a small loan from the families in his village to buy a chicken. From this modest beginning, Kojo grows up to be a successful egg farmer who has helped to bring prosperity to his village and his country. It is based on the true story of a man in Ghana who realized the importance of making small loans, also known as microloans, to people in developing areas who have no collateral and no access to traditional banks. It is an inspirational story of a program that really does help to change the world, one person at a time.

The story is told with parallel texts. Each page includes a detailed part of the story, with a simple one-line summary of that part. The one-line text reads a bit like “The House That Jack Built” and emphasizes the cumulative effect of one action followed by another. The book is beautifully illustrated in acrylics by awardwinning artist Eugenie Fernandes. She creates a world full of the activity of the village, the market, the farm and the country. Her drawings convey a feeling of warmth and love and hope for the future. Like the other books in this format, the pictures are vibrant but gentle, perhaps, like the story, suggesting a better way to co-exist with each other and the planet. Highly recommended for schools and public libraries.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2008. Vol.31 No.2.

One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference

Meet Kojo, a Ghanaian boy who turns a small loan into a thriving farm. He is based on a real man, Kwabena Darko, who changed his community and is helping others do the same via a microcredit lending program.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2009.

Other titles by Katie Smith Milway

Other titles by Eugenie Fernandes