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Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale (1987)

by John Steptoe

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,9141993,354 (4.26)13
Mufaro's two beautiful daughters, one bad-tempered, one kind and sweet, go before the king, who is choosing a wife.

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» See also 13 mentions

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As a new grandmother, I’ve been searching for more diverse children’s books to add to my library, and I ran across Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters at the library sale a while back. I bought it and I’m so glad I did. It’s a lovely Cinderella-esque story of a man named Mufaro who lives in an African village and has two beautiful daughters, Manyara and Nyasha. Manyara is selfish and cruel, while Nyasha is always sweet and kind to humans and animals alike. One day, a messenger arrives from the city, saying that the king is searching for a wife and he’s invited all the most beautiful and worthy daughters in the land to appear before him. Wanting to be the first to arrive, Manyara sneaks out ahead of everyone else, but fails to heed the warnings of the people she meets along the way. Meanwhile Nyasha leaves with everyone else the next morning and when she arrives a surprise awaits her.

As a lover of all things fairy tale, I very much enjoyed this story. It’s everything I expect a fairy tale to be, including the HEA, just with an African backdrop and characters. According to the author’s note inside, the story was inspired by an African folktale that was published in the late 19th century, while the characters names are taken from the Shona language. The illustrations are quite beautiful, detailed, and realistic, and again, according to the note, the settings were inspired by the ruins of an ancient city in Zimbabwe, as well as the plants and animals of the region. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters was a Caldecott Honor Book and also the recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award for its illustrations, and I can definitely see why. In addition to the wonderful illustrations and the fairy tale quality of the story, I also very much appreciated the message about true beauty having more to do with a kindness of the heart and that pride and selfishness have consequences. The book is a keeper for me, and with this being my first read by the late John Steptoe, I’ll certainly be checking out his other work. ( )
  mom2lnb | Sep 6, 2020 |
Mufaro's two daughters react in different ways to the King's search for a wife - one is aggressive and selfish, the other kind and dignified. The king disguises himself to learn the true nature of both the girls and chooses Nyasha, the kind and generous daughter, to be the queen.
  riselibrary_CSUC | Aug 15, 2020 |
00001361
  lcslibrarian | Aug 13, 2020 |
00000866
  lcslibrarian | Aug 13, 2020 |
Great spin on the traditional Cinderella story. Beautiful illustrations and a great moral (lesson) to the story. A great multicultural (African Tale) title to add to ones library collection.
  Scholzenj | Jul 15, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Steptoeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Burton, LeVarNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kohen, ClaritaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miles, RobinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Phylicia RashadNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the Children of South Africa
First words
A long time ago, in a certain place in Africa, a small village lay across a river and half a day's journey from a city where a great king lived.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Mufaro's two beautiful daughters, one bad-tempered, one kind and sweet, go before the king, who is choosing a wife.

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Book description
A Cinderella story set in Africa. I always enjoy stories where the most beautiful people who are haugty and high get their just rewards. Whereby making way for others to see the beauty inside people, deemed plain or ordinary. Girls need to know that it is okay to be plain and ordinary. For these are qualities often overlooked by young men in today's society. It was truly touching when the prince recognized Mufaro's worthy daughter, Nyasha, was ultimately the most worthy and beautiful in the end. Cinderella stories, such as this are always heart warming. Good does continue to prevail!
Haiku summary
Mufaro's daughter
Nyasha kind and true
chosen worthy by the prince

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