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African Beginnings Hardcover – January 20, 1998
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From School Library Journal
Grade 3 UpAThis informative picture book is a handsomely illustrated overview of Africa's ancient empires. From thousands of years ago when the Sahara was green and fertile, to the peak of the African slave trade in the late 1700's, many cultures flourished. Readers learn that Egypt was once ruled by the Kushites, whose kings were shown in temple and tomb depictions as black pharaohs. European explorers and exploiters ignored the continent's past in their preoccupation with treasure. The slaves who survived the brutal journey of the Middle Passage brought with them their rich oral history and traditions, eventually blending elements of their cultures with those of the New World in North, Central, and South America. There is just enough information in the text to leave children curious to learn more about these ancient empires, and the extensive bibliography points to more detailed sources. Cooper's understated paintings in muted colors effectively convey a feeling of strength and power. His oil wash on boards technique gives a textured antique appearance to the beautiful double-page spreads. A stunning introduction to African history.AEunice Weech, M. L. King Elementary School, Urbana, IL
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 3^-7. Although books about ancient Egypt generally are available in abundance, titles dealing with other African civilizations have been much more difficult to find. In this handsomely designed picture book for older readers, the authors begin with Nubia around the year 3800 B.C. and continue surveying the cultures (including Egyptian) in chronological order, covering 11 in all. Separate sections on music and dance, the spread of Islam, slavery, trade with Europeans, and art and religion are also included, along with milestones and a bibliography. The oil-and-wash paintings, which reflect Cooper's exceptional ability to capture people's faces, portray the varied cultures with dignity and spirit. Both the authors and the artist have done their research, but as Haskins notes in the introduction, the book is "only a glimpse." It is a place to begin. Susan Dove Lempke