Ten, Nine, Eight

Image Credit: Tupelo Books (HarperCollins), Molly Bang

Image Credit: Tupelo Books (HarperCollins), Molly Bang

While browsing the web, I saw the cover of this book and immediately had flashbacks. I’m a very visual person and the last time I’d seen this cover was when I very little. I’d completely forgotten about this book, and so, I set out to find it.

Molly Bang covers a lot of important basics here; love, family, counting and warm illustrations. Her oil illustrations really shine and you can’t help but smile while looking at them. The cover illustration is very reminiscent of Goodnight Moon in composition. I especially recommend this book in board book form because it is the perfect size for toddlers to hold. Formulaic, descriptive lines like “Ten small toes all washed and warm” create a comfortable feeling and little ones will enjoy going to bed with this book.

We see a black father loving his child. This is important because it isn’t depicted often, in all types of media. This little book celebrates their love for each other. Regardless of ethnicity, the father-daughter relationship is underrepresented in picture books (but luckily that is changing). Ten, Nine, Eight is a great book for counting, vocabulary and bedtime and it just happens to feature a beautiful, black family.  🙂

Recommended for: Toddlers
Great for: Counting, Vocabulary, Bedtime, Family, Diversity, We Need Diverse Books, Father-Daughter, African-American
Book Info: Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang, 1983 Tupelo Books (HarperCollins), ISBN: 9780688149017

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters

Image Credit: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, John Steptoe

Image Credit: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, John Steptoe

Can we just take a moment to admire how beautiful the cover is? It’s easy to see why this book won a 1988 Caldecott Honor Award. This is one of my absolute favorite books from my childhood because it was one of the first books in which I saw a reflection of myself. Look at that beautiful black girl on the front!

Author/illustrator John Steptoe created this African-Cinderella story after being inspired by African folktales published in a collection called Kaffir Folktales by G.M. Theal in 1895. Theal was a South African historian who also felt it was his duty as a Christian White male to civilize the Africans. So from African roots to colonization to a Black artist living in Brooklyn, these stories traveled and inspired. Steptoe created a book that celebrates Africa. He uses water soluble inks applied by brush and pen and with this technique, his illustrations glow. They are so beautifully vibrant!

In Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, Mufaro has two daughters named Manyara and Nyasha. Manyara is a rotten person and treats her humble and kind sister Nyasha horribly. One day it’s announced that the Great King is looking for a new wife and only the most worthy woman will become his Queen. Manyara’s selfishness catches up with her and Nyasha’s gentle nature and kindness give her all the treasures she deserves. This twist on the western Cinderella tale is very sweet and is full of morals for people of all ages to learn from. If you have a child who loves Cinderella stories, add this one to their collection! You’ll enjoy reading it together.

Recommended for: All ages
Great for: Fairytales, Cultural Diversity, Diversity, Morals, History, Discussion
Book Info: Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe, 1987 Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, ISBN: 9780688040451