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THE VILLAGE THAT VANISHED by Ann Grifalconi Kirkus Star


by Ann Grifalconi & illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-8037-2623-6
Publisher: Dial

In this powerful tale presented in the style of African storytelling, a girl, mother, and grandmother draw upon their individual strengths to help save their Yao village from slave traders. Grifalconi’s (Patrol, p. 663, etc.) use of dialogue and narrative shows how young and old inspire others to overcome their fear by devising a clever idea that will save their people. Nelson’s (Brothers of the Night, 2001, etc.) technique of combining photocopied pencil drawings with oil paints brings to life the lushness of the forest and gives a rich texture to the characters’ faces. On the cover and in a double-page spread the clouds form a silhouette of the slave traders and foreshadow their coming. Warm hues and detail of line effectively capture the excitement of young Abikanile as she dances across a stone path in the river, the pride of Njemile as she convinces her people to trust in her plan, and the stubbornness of old Chimwala as she refuses to leave the place of her ancestors. Pictures of children eagerly listening to a storyteller spin her tale open and close the story. An author’s note explains how a griot uses stories to teach young people their history as well as how to behave. A pronunciation key for the Yao names of the characters is provided to ensure that all who read or listen to this tale will learn “ . . . one must answer not only with faith, but with courage . . . ” (Picture book. 7-10)