Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters

An African Tale

Introduction

Author and Illustrator - John Steptoe
Genre - Mythology/Folktale
Topic/Theme - Treat all things and people with equal kindness
Awards - Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Award

Book Background

From the text: Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters was inspired by a folktale collected by G.M. Theal and published in 1895 in his book, Kaffir Follktales. Details of the illustrations were inspired by the ruins of an ancient city found in Zimbabwe, and the flora and fauna of that region. The names of the characters are from the Shona language: Mufaro means "happy man"; Nyasha means "mercy"; Manyara means "ashamed"; and Nyoka means "snake."

Author Background

- Born in Brooklyn
- Started drawing pictures as a child, including stories to go along with the drawing
- First book published at 18 years old
- All of his work pertains to African American experiences
- Famous published works: Stevie and The Story of Jumping Mouse
- Interesting fact: he used his children to model for the pictures in many of his books

Sidney Westervelt

I am the King by Sidney Westervelt

Artwork - colored pencil, cross-hatching

Culturally Relevant

- The names of the characters are culturally relevant and reflect the culture (example: The names of the characters are from the Shona language: Mufaro means "happy man"; Nyasha means "mercy"; Manyara means "ashamed"; and Nyoka means "snake.").
- The book is rich in cultural details (example: If the artwork is looked at, cultural chores, such as pouring water, gardening, breaking down things [pots], can be seen throughout the book. These give a more realistic example of what life would be like for Nyasha and Manyara).
- The book portrays leadership and cooperative dimensions correctly (example: It can be seen in the book what it would look like for a father to bring his daughters to get married to the king. The text has Mufaso bring both of his daughters to the king, with a long wedding party behind them. The king is head over all, and the book portrays an attitude of that; it is a BIG deal to marry the king. )

Classroom Application

- Grade level: 3rd
- Standard: RL 3.2 - Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
- Literacy Teaching Objective: The students will deduce the moral of the story and explain.
- Connecting to Students' Lives and Teaching: The students could use this lesson and apply it to their everyday life. For example, sometimes people may look different or things may not be the way they want, but the students still have to live, just as Nyasha did. The students could summarize this text, discover the main idea, talk about how the main idea could be applied to everyday life, and then rewrite a version of the story on their own about a time in their own life. This could be through an actual story or a fictional story.

Steptoe, J. (1987). Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale. New York, NY: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books.

References

The Estate of John Steptoe (2014). About John Steptoe. Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://www.johnsteptoe.com/bio.html.

Steptoe, J. (1987). Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale. New York, NY: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books.

University of Notre Dame (2005). Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters. Retrieved on March 31, 2014, from http://goodmedia.nd.edu/reviews/review.cfm?id=1609.