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MY PAINTED HOUSE, MY FRIENDLY CHICKEN, AND ME by Maya Angelou Kirkus Star

MY PAINTED HOUSE, MY FRIENDLY CHICKEN, AND ME

By Maya Angelou (Author) , Margaret Courtney-Clarke (Photographer)

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 1994
ISBN: 0-517-59667-9

A beguiling collaboration between the renowned poet (All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes, 1986, etc.) and a Namibian-born photojournalist. Thandi, an eight-year-old Ndebele girl from a South African village, is first glimpsed in European school clothes but talks mostly about her traditional culture, in which "people do not call anything beautiful. They will say that the best thing is good." She tells how their intricately patterned houses are painted and describes her mother's beadwork, focusing on the contrast between these arts and the sober modern world of town and school. Thandi's sunny, childlike voice is gracefully honed and has delightful touches of humor, especially about her "best friend," a chicken: "When I tell my friend secrets, she can talk all she wants...but no one can understand her...except another chicken, of course" (ellipses in original). In the expertly composed color photos, Thandi and the other children glow with mischief, laugh out loud, or "just sit back deep inside themselves"; the crafts are also handsomely displayed. The design here (by Alexander Isley Design) is inspired, setting off words and photos to perfection. Vibrant color blocks and pages echo hues in the photos and contrast with white pages. Spacing and different sizes of sans-serif type enhance the cadence and emphasis of the first-person narrative. A fine introduction to these young South Africans. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4-8)