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I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Diakite, Penda; Baba Wague Diakite (illus.) I Lost My Tooth in Africa. New York: Scholastic, 2006. $16.99, ISBN 0 439 66226 5.

Note: While visiting her father's family in Mali, a young girl loses a tooth, places it under a calabash, and receives a hen and a rooster from the African Tooth Fairy. (CABA Winner)

_I lost my tooth in Africa_ is a vibrant, lively story about eight year old Amina, who takes a long journey from Portland, Oregon to West Africa, to visit her father's family in Mali. When Amina looses her tooth in Mali, places it under a gourd and tangles with the African tooth-fairy, she learns that growing up is also about responsibility.

Amina's realistic adventure is reflected in the art as well as the text. The feeling of visual movement, envelopes the reader and involves them in the story. Amina's emotions are clearly visible in the colorful art, the use of Bambara phrases, and in the sounds and words that have been selected to tell her story. These elements enable the reader to form strong impressions about the very different culture and environment that they are being exposed to as they follow Amina's story and symbiotically feel her happiness, disappointment, separation anxiety and sadness. Amina's adventure, rich and complexly interwoven, introduces young readers to an array of African traditional concepts, such as, what it means to be a member of an extended family, what it would be like to live in Africa, how it is different from the U.S. and what is expected when it comes to owning your own domesticated animals (not pets) in Africa and being responsible for their welfare.

_I lost my tooth in Africa_ was written by the talented Penda Diakite when she was just eight years old. It is based on events that really happened to her little sister, Amina. Her father, award-winning author Baba Wague Diakite, is the illustrator. His books have earned him a Coretta Scott King Honor Award and a Children's Africana Honor Award. Teachers can benefit a great deal from using this book, especially in their Social Studies classes, when teaching about African culture (food, family, language and traditions) or celebrating Black History Month. The book's appendix includes a glossary of the Bambara words, a goodnight song in Bambara and an authentic recipe for African onion sauce from Mali. Diakite's heart-warming, fast-moving book is fun to read and comes highly recommended for primary and upper elementary school children. Copyright © 2007 by Africa Access, all rights reserved.

Rating: HR Grade: P ; Ages 4-8 Type: Book

Reviewed by: Gloria Creed-Dikeogu, Ottawa University

Subject: Black author / West Africa / Mali / Fiction / CABA winner / Urban setting / City and town life