From School Library Journal
Grade 5 Up-In an informative preface, Tadjo points out that in African history, white colonials are not the only oppressors and that some of the poets included here, such as Nigerians Christopher Okigbo and Ken Saro-Wiwa, were killed by their own governments. The 75 selections are divided into 7 sections dealing with nature, animals, love, people and how they see their lives, death, cultural pride, and reactions to the turmoil currently found in many African countries. The final chapter will prompt many students to think about such important issues as racial diversity, leaving the country or place one knows, and not being seen for one's true self. Younger readers may more easily appreciate the poems that capture animal movements and the love of a parent for a child. However, the overall poetic sensibility needs a more mature audience to understand such offerings as Okinba Launko's thought that after a death, "…life re-affirms itself in new beginnings;/And suddenly, it is morning again!/And the stories we tell,/Of our meeting, and parting,/And returning, Are/Minted coins…." Although not attributed to any particular culture, the elegant black-and-white motif-like drawings of animals, masks, and humans embellish the text. Both words and pictures speak eloquently.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA
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Gr. 4-8. The contemporary and the traditional are both well represented in this lively anthology of 75 accessible poems from 16 African countries. The arrangement is by theme, starting with "Our Universe" and "The Animal Kingdom" and ending with "Pride and Defiance" (about the struggles for freedom) and "The Changing Times," which includes both celebration and discontent after independence. Illustrated with small, black-and-white folk-art drawings, the collection ranges widely, including poems of love, sorrow, and pride. Some of the best works are about exile: Chinua Achebe's heartbreaking view of a refugee mother with her dying child; Wole Soyinka's raucous, laugh-out-loud response to painful racism; David Diop's "Africa my Africa . . . I have never known you." A map, a glossary, and an index by country round out this fine resource for social studies and literature classes, which will also be great for reading aloud. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved