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Bintou's Braids Hardcover – August 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (August 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811825140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811825146
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,485,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"My name is Bintou and I want braids. My hair is short and fuzzy." So laments the heroine in the straightforward style she uses to narrate her story. Though Bintou dreams birds would enjoy nesting in her hair, she mostly envisions wearing "long braids with gold coins and seashells," as her sister and other young women of her African village do. Her Grandma Soukeye explains that girls are only allowed tufts or cornrows in order to avoid vanity, and relays a village cautionary tale to underscore her moral. Diouf (Growing Up in Slavery) creates strong female characters and evokes the feeling of a small village as extended family. With their large expressive eyes and warm demeanor, the girls and women gracefully move through Evans's (Osceola: Memories of a Sharecropper's Daughter) oil paintings in abundant earth tones and bright African batiks. Subtle footprints and chicken prints in the ochre sand background add depth to the fluid paintings. When Bintou helps save two drowning cousins and asks that braids be her reward, Grandma Soukeye finds a way to adhere to village tradition while acknowledging Bintou's heroism. This heartfelt story affords glimpses of West African customs as it touches on children's universal desire to be treated as grown-ups. Ages 4-8.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

K-Gr 3-Bintou wants braids. All she has are four little tufts of hair on her head, and she is always being told that she is too young for the beautiful long braids that her sister and the women of her West African village wear. Little girls have cornrows, she is told, and she must wait. But Bintou, a very believable child, does not want to wait, and when she is offered any reward she can name for saving the lives of two drowning boys, she knows just what to ask for. This lively story is enriched by descriptions and illustrations of village life and customs. There is a great new-baby celebration, where the hands and arms of many villagers are shown high in the air, a stylized representation of unity and joy as the child is raised aloft. The grandmother is shown in her tribal dress, and readers see the beauty of the women with gold coins woven into the braids over their foreheads. Finally there is Bintou, delighted at the decorations in her hair that make her realize how special she is. The oil paintings glow in rich tones of gold, sand, and blue, and the text uses simple narrative language that will read aloud well.

Marian Drabkin, formerly at Richmond Public Library, CA

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
In a heartwarming story that reflects on family and tradition, Bintou, a child, grows up in her West African village yearning to have long braids like the older girls, with seashells and coins attached in the ancestral tradition. Poor Bintou only has four little tufts of hair wrapped in colored string, nothing nearly as attractive as the older girls. Bintou's baby brother is soon to be baptized and given a name, so she greets her grandmother in the village the day before the feast. Thanks to her many years, Bintou's grandmother knows everything; when Bintou asks why she can't have braids, the grandmother relates the tale of Couma, a girl who had such braids with seashells and coins and thought of nothing but herself. The elders decided that little girls could only have corn rows, so that they would make friends, play and learn before worrying about such grownup things. Still, Bintou dreams at night of braids with coins and seashells.

The day of the feast, Bintou escapes from the festivities for a while near the water's edge, where she hears cries for help; two boys are in danger of drowning. Taking a shortcut through the brambles, she tears loose two of her four tufts of hair, but finds help in time to save the boys. Promised a reward for her quick thinking, Bintou's older sister says, "She wants braids!" That night Bintou dreams a different dream, of yellow and blue birds nesting in her soft hair. The next morning, as her grandmother dresses her hair, she expects the usual corn rows; when Bintou looks in the mirror, a pretty girl stares back at her, hair sprinkled with blue and yellow birds. She is content to wait until she is grown for her braids.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dodi F on March 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully illustrated book and a beautiful story with wonderful messages about bravery, what girls should focus on (playing and learning instead of vanity), wisdom of ancestors, adults honoring children's desires while also standing their ground and providing wise guidance. It's also a lovely way to learn a bit about West African people and customs. I recommend it highly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lisa1971 on June 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a classic in our family. We've had it for a couple years (starting when my daughter was 4?). It is very well written and enjoyable to read, partly because it's told in Bintou's voice. As a bonus- it's also a good book for instilling pride in a little girl's hair.
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Format: Hardcover
We checked this book out from the library yesterday and my daughter had finished reading the entire story before me made it home. After finishing, she asked if we could keep the book instead of returning it to the library. After reading the story with her, I had to purchase this book for her. It's a beautiful Afrikan-Centered children's book and a beautiful story, full of Afrikan tradition and culture. I prefer my children read books that deal with real life as opposed to fairy tales. This is a story we can actually see ourselves in, unlike Snow White, Cinderella and the likes. I highly recommend this book for young Afrikan children, especially those in the Diaspora.
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