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Africa For Kids

July 19, 1998

CHINYE. By Obi Onyefulu . Illustrated by Evie Safarewicz (Viking: 32 pp., $14.99)

This story, collected from the Igbo group of Nigeria, is about a young girl unfairly treated by her stepmother and stepsister but watched over by special magical powers. The value of goodness and the negative consequences of greed are played out in this tale. (Ages 5-10)

****

A COUNTRY FAR AWAY. By Nigel Gray . Illustrated by Philippe Dupasquier (Orchard: 32 pp., $15.95, $6.95 paper)

Parallel pictures depict the lives of two boys, one in a Western country and one in a rural African village, revealing the essential similarities and striking differences. (Ages 4-6)

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THE DISTANT TALKING DRUM: Poems from Nigeria. By Isaac Olaleye . Illustrated by Frane Lessac (Boyds Mills Press: 32 pp., $14.95)

The poems in this collection call forth the sights, sounds, activities and customs of a Yoruba village and its inhabitants. (Ages 7 and older)

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THE FLYING TORTOISE. By Tololwa Mollel . Illustrated by Barbara Spurll (Clarion: 32 pp., $14.95)

The author, an Arusha Massai, retells here an Igbo tale from Nigeria in which Mbeku, the tortoise, tricks the birds into providing him with a big feast. But when he tries to trick them a second time, he's the one who gets fooled. (Ages 4-8)

****

IMANI IN THE BELLY. By Deborah A. Newton Chocolate . Illustrated by Alex Boies (BridgeWater: 32 pp., $14.95)

In this retelling of a Swahili folk tale, Imani saves her children and an entire nation after wild beasts rampage through her village and Simba, the King of the Beasts, swallows the children. Boies' illustrations are strong and vibrant. (Ages 4-6)

****

IT TAKES A VILLAGE. By Jane Cowen-Fletcher (Scholastic: 32 pp., $15.95)

Based on the African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child," this book demonstrates the power of a close-knit community as young Kokou wanders through the market where his mother sells mangoes. (Ages 4-8)

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WHEN AFRICA WAS HOME. By Karen Lynn Williams . Illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Orchard: 32 pp., $14.95, $5.95 paper)

A small white child who has lived in Africa feels alien when his family returns to America and can't wait to go back. (Ages 4-8)

****

THEMBA. By Margaret Sacks . Illustrated by Wil Clay (Puffin: 48 pp., $3.99)

In this simple tale of courage, a South African boy sets off to find his father when he does not return home as scheduled from his work in the Johannesburg gold mines. (Ages 7-11)

****

THE SINGING MAN: Adapted from a West African Folktale. By Angela Shelf Medearis . Illustrated by Terea Shaffer (Holiday House: 32 pp., $16.95)

Based on a tale told by the Yoruba group in Nigeria, this is the story of a young man who is forced to leave his village because he wants to be a musician. He becomes a griot, or praise singer, and returns to his village years later to share his wealth with his family. (Ages 8 and older)

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AFRICAN MIGRATIONS. By Hakim Adi (Raintree/Steck-Vaughn: 48 pp., $24.46)

In this easy history, children can survey the many reasons for African migrations throughout the centuries and meet contemporary emigrants who have left their homes for economic opportunity or to escape conflicts. Readers will see how African people have influenced cultures in every corner of the world. (Ages 8-11)

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BENEATH THE RAINBOW: A Collection of Children's Stories and Poems from Kenya, Vol. 1 (Jacaranda Designs: 48 pp., $14.95)

This anthology of poems and stories represents the work of several outstanding Kenyan writers and artists, and the texts beg to be read aloud. A second volume ("Beneath the Rainbow," Vol. 2) is also available. (Ages 8 and older)

****

BURY MY BONES BUT KEEP MY WORDS: African Tales for Retelling. Retold by Tony Fairman . Illustrated by Meshack Asare (Henry A Holt: 192 pp., $15.95) (Puffin: 192 pp., $3.99 paper)

African storytellers have shared these eerie, laugh-aloud tales for generations. This collection of 17 tales from across Africa includes tidbits of information that add knowledge and atmosphere, such as the response an audience member might make if the tale were being told aloud in its authentic setting. (Ages 12 and older)

****

CROCODILE BURNING. By Michael Williams (Puffin: 208 pp., $3.99)

Seriki, a South African teenager from Soweto, has grown up in a climate of hatred and violence. By joining the cast of a locally produced musical that exposes the plight of black South Africans, he expresses his fear and pent-up outrage. When the play moves to Broadway, he sees a way out of South Africa, but even in New York, he finds he faces oppression. (Ages 12 and older)

****

DO YOU KNOW ME. By Nancy Farmer . Illustrated by Shelley Jackson (Orchard: 112 pp., $15.95)

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