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Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters
Steptoe, John; Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters. : Lothrop, 1987. $14.95, ISBN 0-688-04046-2.

Note: In this stunning picture book, Mufaro's beautiful daughters, one selfish and unkind, the other sweet and generous, go before the king, who is choosing a wife.

Steptoe's last offering before his untimely death in 1989 is an adaptation of a Xhosa tale from South Africa. Steptoe has changed the setting of the story from Xhosa land to old Zimbabwe and he used African Americans rather than southern Africans as the models for his illustrations. Despite these and other alterations, the story works well. As in the old tale, the focus is on sisters with opposite natures. One is kind and gentle, the other bad-tempered and selfish. Each hopes to be chosen by the king to be his wife. In addition to learning that good behavior is rewarded and ill deeds are punished, children soak up the atmosphere of rural and city life in an ancient African kingdom. The book can serve as a useful means of introducing children to the variety of architectural structures in ancient Zimbabwe. Thatched houses and massive stone structures are both featured in the illustrations. The drawings of buildings and people are detailed and stunningly realistic. Storytellers searching for a good read aloud will find this book ably fills the bill.

Rating: HR Grade: P Type: Book

Reviewed by: Brenda Randolph, Africa Access

Subject: Zimbabwe / Fiction / Southern Africa / Black author