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AN AFRICAN PRINCESS by Lyra Edmonds

AN AFRICAN PRINCESS

By Lyra Edmonds (Author) , Anne Wilson (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 6

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-7636-2595-7
Publisher: Candlewick

Rich, attractive mixed-media illustrations can’t make this narrow, problematic theme into a real story. “My name is Lyra and I am an African princess,” it begins; because Lyra lives in an apartment building and has freckles, though, she worries it may be untrue until visiting a relative restores her confidence. Lyra’s told that a long time ago, “a princess was captured from Africa and taken to the Caribbean to live”; the extended family descended from this event “has spread far from Africa to every shore” and is now part of Lyra’s family tree. Trying to address real history/genealogy, Edmonds slips into romanticization by overemphasizing the princess notion. The harshness of the history is never mentioned beyond the word “captured,” and the African princess label, repeated incessantly but never defined, is too thin to hold up the story. Of value, though, is the wonderfully natural portrayal of Lyra’s interracial family. (Picture book. 4-6)