The Everlasting Embrace

Each morning as the sun brightens the West African sky, mother and child prepare to start their day. They spend it bound together, the child riding on the mother’s back watching their world go past. Pounding millet, drawing water from the well, visiting friends, shopping at the outdoor market. They share the days in perfect step with one another. And even when the child grows big enough to go off and explore their world, the everlasting embrace endures.

Yatandou

Yatandou lives in a Mali village with her family and neighbors. And though she is only eight years old and would much rather play with her pet goat, she must sit with the women and pound millet kernels. To grind enough millet for one day’s food, the women must pound the kernels with their pounding sticks for three hours. It is hard work, especially when one is eight years old. But as they work, the women dream of a machine that can grind the millet and free them from their pounding sticks. But the machine will only come when the women have raised enough money to buy it. Yatandou must help raise the money, even if it means parting with something she holds dear. Through the eyes and voice of a young girl, award-winning author Gloria Whelan brings to life one village’s dream of a better future. Atmospheric paintings from artist Peter Sylvada capture the landscape and spirit of this inspiring story of sacrifice and hope.

See the review at WOW Review, Volume 5, Issue 3.

Never Forgotten

This gorgeous picture book by Newbery Honor winner Patricia C. McKissack and two-time Caldecott Medal-winning husband-and-wife team Leo and Diane Dillon is sure to become a treasured keepsake for African American families. Set in West Africa, here is a lyrical story-in-verse about a young black boy who is kidnapped and sold into slavery, which will remind children that their slave ancestors should never be forgotten, and that family is more important than anything else.

African Beginnings

From the ancient kingdom of Kush, whose black pharaohs ruled Egypt for nearly a century, to the sixteenth-century empire of the Kongo, whose emperor was so powerful he was able to halt the trade in slaves for a number of years, the African continent rang with a series of glorious civilizations that have had a lasting impact on the world’s history, and on American culture. James Haskins and Floyd Cooper have won numerous awards for their books for young people, including several Coretta Scott King Honor awards.

A Gift from Childhood: Memories of an African Boyhood

Baba Wagué is only four years old when he is sent to the tiny Malian village of Kassaro to be raised by his paternal grandparents, according to the family tradition. He is most unhappy about this at first, but under his grandmother’s patient and wise tutelage he comes to love his close-knit village community. He learns how to catch a catfish with his bare hands, flees from an army of bees, and mistakes a hungry albino cobra snake for a pink inner tube. Finally, Grandma Sabou decides that Baba is educated enough to go to school, and he moves back to the city, where his family struggles to provide him with a formal education. But he brings his village stories with him, and in the process of sharing them with his neighborhood uncovers his immense artistic and storytelling talents.