Inspired by a Kafir folk tale published in an 1895 collection, Caldecott Honor winner Steptoe has reset the classic Cinderella pattern in an ancient Zimbabwe city. Mufaro has two beautiful daughters. Bad-tempered Manyara taunts Nyasha behind Mufaro's back; Nyasha is saddened by her sister's anger, but goes on about her business of tending a garden, singing even more sweetly when the pretty little snake, Nyoka, is there. When the Great King sends for candidates to be his wife, Manyara sets off first, thrice turning down requests for help on her way. But on her journey, Nyasha, as is her wont, offers assistance whenever it's needed and so passes the tests, arriving to find Nyoka, who like the wayside supplicants, turns out to be the king in another form. Joyfully, they are married; Manyara becomes Nyasha's servant. Steptoe has chosen a tone of nobility and the pristine glories of an unspoiled world for his illustrations for this universal story. Meticulous crosshatching defines his sculptural forms; rich, darkly luminous colors convey Africa's visual excitement; yet his carefully realistic treatment will help make the story immediate and accessible to unsophisticated readers as well as to those who appreciate his subtlety. (Note: Because of tight side-sewing, the full sweep of these generous double spreads is interrupted even in the trade edition.) A beautiful book, deserving a permanent place in library collections.