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I Lost My Tooth In Africa Hardcover – January 1, 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4–This story recounts a child's visit to Mali, where she loses her tooth. After she hides it under a calabash, she waits for the African Tooth Fairy to replace it with a chicken. When her patience runs out and she returns to the gourd to retrieve her tooth, a chicken and a rooster emerge. She is delighted. The strength and enduring warmth of her African extended family emerge fully through thoughtful detail. Grandma N'na gives her a blessing each morning: May you rise high with strength and knowledge. When the child returns home to Oregon, Uncle Madou volunteers to take care of the chickens until her return. The vivid ceramic-tile illustrations expand the text, revealing a range of animals, houses, and greenery. At the end are the words to Grandma's Good Night Song, the recipe for African Onion Sauce, and a glossary of Bambara words, all of which add to the authentic feel of the story. In his illustrator's note, Baba Diakité states, Storytelling is a gift to me from my elders and I simply wanted to pass this gift along to my children. He has succeeded, as his artistry supports his daughter's storytelling beautifully.–Alexa L. Sandman, Kent State University, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

PreS-Gr. 2. The enduring connection between a child in Portland, Oregon, and her extended family in Bamako, Mali, is the theme of this picture book, based on a true story, which the author wrote when she was just eight years old. In an immediate first-person account, a little girl relates her excitement about flying from America to revisit her father's family in Mali. One of her teeth is loose, and her dad tells her that if she loses her tooth and puts it under a gourd, she will get a chicken from the African Tooth Fairy. That's exactly what happens, and the last page shows the girl, minus one tooth and holding a speckled hen. The focus is on the rich daily life of the community, and the pictures--bright ceramic-tile-like illustrations by Diakite's father (whose picture books include the Coretta Scott King Honor Book The Hunterman and the Crocodile (1997)--are framed in borders decorated with everything from the sun, moon, and stars to eggs, chickens, feathers, and vegetables. The lively art shows why the narrator is sad to leave and looks forward to coming back. A glossary, a song, and a recipe for African onion sauce round out a book filled with charm. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439662265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439662260
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 11.2 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #518,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Monica Edinger on February 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
A teacher and former Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa, I'm always looking for children's books that really capture for American children West African daily life. This book does so beautifully. Connecting American children to another culture through the universal childhood experience of losing a tooth and, further, having it told by a child herself is just right. The young author with gentle simplicity tells her sister's story and about her Malian family's daily life as well. The illustrations by her father are lovely too. Text and art together bring an authentic Africa to young American readers in a unique way. While it is recommended for children 4-8 years old, I read it to my 4th graders as part of our study this month of forced immigration (slavery). It balanced out their other reading of The Kidnapped Prince, Ann Cameron's adaptation of Olaudah Equiano's autobiography of the 18th century. Having spent two years in Sierra Leone and some time in Mali too, this book captures the life I knew in those places for young Americans as few others do.
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Format: Hardcover
I Lost My Tooth in Africa, is a charming story of a young girl from Portland, Oregon who visits her family in Mali, Africa. There, she loses her loose tooth and receives a special present from the "African tooth fairy." The text paints a vivid description of not only the way things look in Mali, but also of the way people live there. The story, which includes some words in Bambara, the native language of that region, is rich with African culture. At the back of the book is a glossary of Bambara words, as well as the words to an African Goodnight Song, and a recipe for African Onion Sauce.

The text is beautifully complimented by ceramic-tile illustrations done by award-winning artist Baba Wague Diakite, who happens to be the fourteen-year-old author's father. Reading the book, I would have never guessed that the author was a teenager. She did a very fine job. I hope that we will be seeing more stories by this truly talented duo.

I Lost My Tooth in Africa is an excellent way to introduce children, ages 4-8, to African culture. My five-year-old daughter enjoyed the book. I think other kids will enjoy it too.
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By Jo. on February 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I know the author and illustrator as they are a family from the school I teach here in Portland. Wague has created artwork for us since his children began attending our school. He worked with my class on a large scale quilt to decorate the hallway of the school.

On a professional note, this book has a charming story line, gives a sweet glimpse of life away from 'home' and is hearfelt in it's theme. Penda writes about her little sister Amina and their 'adventures' losing a tooth in Mali while visiting family. Wague has created a bright and colorful book reflecting his artwork and his passion for literature.

On a personal note, this is a family completely dedicated to their children and education. Always willing to help and share their talents with their children and the community around them, I am positive Wague enthusiastically encouraged Penda in her quest to be an author. This book is truly a labor of love between a father and his daughters as well as an author and an illustrator. I warmly and highly recommend this book. During the recent book signing at our school Penda was patient and thrilled to be autographing books and seeing her friends and teachers. Enjoy reading this to your family!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I liked everything about this book, and I'm 77. The illustrations are perfect and the fact that this was written by the artist's daughter when she was 8 adds to the charm. I recommend it to everyone, especially 8 year-olds who aspire to be writers!
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great introduction to world cultures for young children. It is written quite appropriately for children that are beginning to lose their teeth. My daughter loved the use of foreign terms. I also liked how the culture was woven into the story, such as how all they ate out of one large bowl and slept in bamboo beds. We also enjoyed finding Mali on our wall map and tracing the route they took to get there. Lastly, I think that it's important to note that this is a true story.

I do want to mention, however, that one must realize that this story may certainly stain a child's belief in the American tooth fairy. I personally opt for straightforward honesty in this area, but some who want to draw out the fun for their child may want to avoid this book.
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Format: Hardcover
The story and illustrations are really so much fun. My four year old loves the ideas of getting a chicken when she loses her first tooth! She was also really interested in the details such as brushing teeth in the garden to water the plants at the same time and the picture of the cooking area. We have read this book a million times and it's just as charming with each read.
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This book has great artwork. It is very colorful and has a story that is easy for my child to follow. I read it to him very often at bedtime and have him to identify the objects he sees in the story.
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I highly recommend this book for K-2 grades, because they are losing all their baby teeth during that time. I really enjoyed watching my students of all cultural backgrounds relate to the African/African-American girl in this story. The pictures are also wonderfully vibrant!
I'm an Elementary Art teacher, and I read this book to my 1st graders during an African art and culture unit. It helped them to imagine that they were traveling to Africa just as the little girl in the story does. It is also a great introduction about how different cultures do things in different ways! In this story, the tooth fairy brings a chicken instead of money!
My students also really appreciated that this book was originally written by an 8 year old girl, and later illustrated by her Dad. There is a picture of them in the back of the book, and my kids loved seeing the faces responsible for writing and illustrating the book!
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