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My Baby
Winter, Jeanette; My Baby. New York: Farrar, 2001. out of print, ISBN 0-374-35103-1.

Note: As she waits for her baby to be born, a young woman from Mali describes some of the sights and sounds of her homeland as she creates a beautiful b=g=lan cloth for her child.

My Baby written by Jeanette Winter is an interesting portrayal of non-formal education in Mali.
Winter focuses on an important art form used to create attractive mud-dyed textiles. On one level,
Winter depicts the steps taken by Nakunte Diarra to become an accomplished b=g=lan artist.
Through Diarra's achievement, she exhibited pieces at the Indiana University Art Museum.

On a second level, Winter takes ideas from an adult exhibit and describes the art form to North
American children. The b=g=lan is an important textile worn at festive occasions and the designs are
customized for the wearer. Although not stated, this textile holds similar importance as does adire,
adinkra, kente, or bark cloth.

In addition, Winter weaves the story with issues of the environment. As Diarra paints her baby's
textile, she introduces different animals and phenomena to her unborn baby and the reader. For
instance, the designs for the textile represent drums, snakes, leopards, scorpions, fish bones,
iguanas, crocodiles, chameleons, calabash flowers, turtledoves, and celestial stars. The illustrations
complement the text.

Finally, Winter's story also emphasizes the importance of birth with the rainy season. In a
semi-desert environment, rains fill the wells, sustain new plantings, and enable communications. This
story generates many topics of discussion for a child.

Rating: R Grade: P Type: Book

Reviewed by: Patricia Kuntz, pskuntz@education.wisc.edu

Subject: Mali / Africa, West / Art