All day long Nakunte watches her mother dip her painting stick ("CLICK- CLICK") in and out of the mud paint as she paints the bògòlan cloth. As she grows older, Nakunte begins practicing her mother's craft, and the villagers come to her for their special cloth for weddings, new babies, and journeys to the Promised Land. Nakunte marries, and when she finds she is pregnant, she starts a bògòlan for her own baby, taking her inspiration from the animals and landscape around her. "The leopard's spots hide her. Listen, my baby, do you hear her footsteps in the bush?" Nakunte paints a checkerboard pattern resembling the leopard's markings. "The creek is so dry. After the rains come, my baby, you will hear the water. But who has left those fish bones?" A fish-bone pattern surrounds the cloth.
Jeanette Winter, in her story about the textile technique practiced for centuries by women of Mali, frames each page in the pattern described by the expectant mother. The bright background colors, and those worn by the men and women of the village, contrast with the traditional black and white of the bògòlan cloth for a vibrant visual experience. Winter's soothing, rhythmic words seem to echo the clicking of the painting stick in this love story for a baby. Her other highly acclaimed picture books include Follow the Drinking Gourd and My Name Is Georgia. (Ages 4 to 8) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
Winter travels to Mali with aplomb in this picture book exploration of a traditional textile art. As a child, Nakunte learns from her mother how to create the patterned cloth called bglan ("Her painting stick goes CLICK-CLICK in and out of the mud paint all day long") worn for special occasions like weddings and funerals, and later, an adult Nakunte keeps the whole village supplied with the beautiful cloth she paints. With the arrival of her own baby imminent, Nakunte gets to work on a bglan for the little one. Searching out the whitest cloth, she mixes up a mud "black as a starless night" and begins. "Listen, my baby, do you hear the drums that call?" Nakunte says as she paints a drum-shaped border for the cloth; Winter frames the image of Nakunte at work with the same repeating drum pattern. As Nakunte tells her unborn child about the wonders of the world around her, she incorporates elements of each into her cloth. From checks that mimic a leopard's spots to the herringbone pattern of a fish skeleton, the designs slowly fill the bglan--just in time. "Welcome--my baby!" Winter sets up a sumptuous contrast between the stark black-and-white of the bglan cloth and the color harmonies of the vivid African setting. And her fascination with artistry--expressed in books about subjects as diverse as Bach, Georgia O'Keeffe and Diego Rivera--expands in this poetic tale that draws an elegant parallel between artistic creation and procreation. Ages 3-6.
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