MANSA MUSA by Khephra Burns
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MANSA MUSA

The Lion of Mali
by & illustrated by &
Age Range: 10 - 12
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Illustrated by the Dillons (Two Little Trains, p. 561, etc.) at their most magisterial, this original tale of the youth of Kankan Musa, the most renowned royal descendant of the great king of Mali, Sundiata, makes a grand, compelling, sumptuously presented narrative. Captured by slavers and sold to a wandering mystic, Kankan Musa spends seven years learning the ways of the desert, seeing the wonders of Egypt, and facing death in several forms as he grows in wisdom and inner strength. Returning home at last, he is welcomed with jubilance, and later begins a reign so dazzling that his fame spreads even to benighted Europe. Burns (Black Stars in Orbit, not reviewed) relates events in measured, oratorical prose. Matching his formality, the Dillons draw on Renaissance manuscript art for inspiration, placing small, richly clad, precisely detailed figures in front of land- or cityscapes seen in compressed perspective, opposite pages of text featuring illuminated initials and spaces filled out with patterned bars. The author distinguishes fact from fancy in an afterword, and closes with a booklist for readers eager to travel on. As much about Mansa Musa’s inner journey to selfhood as his outer coming of age, this is a feast for the eye and spirit both. (Illustrated fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-15-200375-4
Page count: 56pp
Publisher: Gulliver/Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2001




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