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The Gifts of Kwanzaa Paperback – January 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company; Reprint edition (January 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807529087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807529089
  • Product Dimensions: 0.1 x 8.6 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,272,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Habari gani? What news?" Synthia Saint James presents the language and origins of Kwanzaa with enticing writing and bold pictures that honor the people and colors of Africa. In her concise introduction, she explains that "'Kwanzaa, which means 'first fruits' in the African language of Swahili, is celebrated for seven days, from December 26 to January 1 ... There are seven principles of Kwanzaa, one for each day. They were designed especially for our children, our future." On this note the author launches into a vibrant discussion of Kwanzaa that is sure to engage children well into the future. Beholding Kwanzaa from the eyes of a young child, Saint James explains the daily rituals with passages such as, "On the first day of Kwanzaa, I light the one black candle in the kinara (kee-NAH-rah), the candleholder. It shines for our pride in the black race. We light the red candle the next day to remember our struggle; the green on the next for our hopes and dreams." Saint James's proud interpretations of the Swahili words and symbolic objects of Kwanzaa are accompanied by illustrations that look as though they've been neatly carved out of tempura-painted paper. Children will love the uncluttered images and the obvious respect for the child's angle of vision. (Ages 4 to 7) --Gail Hudson

From Publishers Weekly

Following a brief history of the seven-day holiday (December 26-January 1), a child narrator explains the seven symbols and the seven principles of Kwanzaa, defining each with its African name (and supplying a a phonetic pronunciation). Despite some choppiness, the simple descriptions of the rituals performed each day make this a lucid introduction to the significance of Kwanzaa. Echoing the candor of the text are Saint James's boldly hued, minimalist acrylic-on-canvas paintings. Although this is the first book she has written, Saint James will be familiar to many for her art, which has appeared in picture books, on greeting cards and on book jackets. Ages 3-7.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author



Synthia SAINT JAMES is a world renowned multicultural visual artist, author, popular speaker and architectural designer who has garnered numerous awards over her forty plus year career, including the prestigious Trumpet Award and her first Honorary Doctorate Degree from Saint Augustine's College, both in 2010.

She is most celebrated for designing the first Kwanzaa Stamp for the United States Postal Service for which she received a History Maker Award and for the international cover art for Terry McMillan's book Waiting to Exhale.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Jane Peters on October 14, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a nice book to have in your classroom for December. It can go with cultural themes on Christmas. The children can learn about other cultures and see how the celebrate Christmas. You may have a child in your classroom that celebrates this in their home. If you asked the parents about it they could help you organized a day of this celebration. They could come in the classroom and show what they do in their home. This is a great way to have families involved in the classroom experience. The children will also learn about other people and their ways of living and celebrating.
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