Mar. 20th, 2017

osprey_archer: (books)
I really enjoyed this week's Caldecott winner, Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions. This is perhaps a bit surprising, given that it's illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, who illustrated Why Mosquitos Buzz in People's Ears, about which I felt rather lukewarm - but the Dillons contain multitudes, it seems, and I really like the art style they chose for this books. The pictures have something of the feeling of stained glass: rich colors, strongly outlined figures, and each picture a vignette that tells an entire story in itself.

The style is well-suited to the alphabet book format: each page is devoted to an ethnic group in Africa with a name starting with that letter of the alphabet, and has a paragraph about some interesting custom that group has. ("The Fanti offer their guests white bubbly palm wine that has a clean fresh smell...Before drinking, a person pours a little wine on the ground and says, 'Come drink with us.' This is called 'pouring the libation,' and it is done to honor the ancestors.")

It seems like a charming way to introduce children to the diversity of peoples on the African continent - clearly a public service when movies still use "Africa" as a location tag. And the pictures are beautifully detailed; I can imagine a child paging through it slowly, spinning stories from the pictures as she goes.

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