Award-winning author and anti-hunger advocate Roger Thurow has a new book out, and it’s a must-read. In The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children—And the World released on May 3, Roger brings the spotlight on the 1,000 Days initiative to end early childhood malnutrition. He masterfully weaves in stories of new mothers and babies whose lives he has followed over the years. The women hail from different corners of the world—Uganda, India, Guatemala, and Chicago— but share similar experiences battling challenges to better health for themselves and their children.

Here is an excerpt from the chapter “This Child is Brilliant” in which Roger narrates the experience of a mother in Uganda whose child’s fragile health improved after she started feeding him on a diet of vitamin A-rich orange sweet potatoes.

Aron’s encounters with dysentery and malaria had interrupted his growth, Brenda said. But now he was thriving again, eating robustly. He was approaching nine months and was nearly twenty-eight inches tall, which was close to on-schedule according to the international growth chart. His mother said he especially liked the orange sweet potatoes. “He can’t get enough,” Brenda said. And she credited them with Aron’s swift recoveries and his growth, for she had begun feeding him the potatoes shortly before his illness. And she herself had eaten them during her pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

The compelling stories in Roger’s new book help draw attention to the importance of nutrition at a critical phase in life. Take a peek at photos and stories from the book in the Chicago Council’s web interactive feature. You can also watch a preview of the book in the video below.