Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Book Review: Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters

by John Steptoe

If you can't read Disney's Cinderella even one more time, introduce your little princess to a different kind of Cinderella story. A Caldecott Honor, for its beautiful pictures.

Set in Africa, Mufaro has 2 beautiful daughters, Manyara and Nyasha. Although both were beautiful, they couldn't have been more different. Manyara was always bad tempered, selfish and unkind. Nyasha was hard working, loving, and kind, despite her sister's harsh words to her.
One day, the King sends an invitation for the most worthy and beautiful daughters in the land to appear before him, so he can choose a bride. Mufaro, who knows nothing of Manyara's bad treatment of others, is proud to send both his daughters. However, Manyara wants to get to the King's palace ahead of her sister, so she steals out in the night to get a head start.

Along the way, Manyara meets 3 people who are in need of kindness from her. Manyara is bitterly cruel to them and continues to the palace, presuming herself to be the next queen.

The next morning, Nyasha sets out for the palace and comes across some of the same strangers her sister met the night before. She is kind and generous with each of them. As Nyasha approaches the castle, Manyara is frantically running from the steps and tells her sister of a terrible beast within that claimed to know her faults. Nyasha enters anyway, and finds that her kindness pays off in the end.
Easy Enrichment: I actually enjoy this story more than Disney's Cinderella, because in Disney's Cinderella the prince seems to fall in love after only one dance. The prince has time to get to know Nyasha, and sees that she is just as kind as she is beautiful. Beauty is another issue in this story. Both girls are beautiful, but one chooses to act ugly.
Depending on the age of your child, you can talk about the differences and similarities between the classic Cinderella and this one. You'll be surprised how alike stories in two very different settings can be.

Another Idea: A good book to get your child interested in another country, especially with the Olympics going on right now. Point out where Africa is on a map or globe, and compare it to where you live.

Buy It: Available at Amazon for $11.55 with free Super Saver Shipping. Find it in the used and new section for as low as $3.86 (plus shipping).

1 comment:

Holly said...

This is one of my favorite books. I loved it as a little girl. I could just stare at the illustrations- they are fascinating.