A History of the Romani People

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A thousand years ago, a group of people who later became the Romani were driven out of northern India by an invading army. This group then took to traveling the world, adopting words, cultural customs, and religious beliefs from the people they encountered. Romani authors Hristo Kyuchukov and Ian Hancock explain why Gypsy is a scornful name and why they prefer to be called Romanies.
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Overview


A thousand years ago, a group of people who later became the Romani were driven out of northern India by an invading army. This group then took to traveling the world, adopting words, cultural customs, and religious beliefs from the people they encountered. Romani authors Hristo Kyuchukov and Ian Hancock explain why Gypsy is a scornful name and why they prefer to be called Romanies.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"There's useful information here - many young people will be unaware of the existence of contemporary Romanies, let alone their practices and beliefs - and the book gains intimacy from the author's self-identification and frequent use of the first-person plural ('Some of us have become well known as influential jazz musicians')." --Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Will help dispel stereotypes, introduce the tragic history of persecution (including the Holocaust), and, perhaps, move children to seek out more. The authors' wrenching personal notes begin the book, and maps showing the distribution of Romani populations around the world close it." --Booklist

Children's Literature
After a short introduction about why the authors of this title were interested in writing about the Romani people, this text begins with the "Origins" of the Gypsies and introduces the middle-level reader to the courtship and family lives of these famous travelers as well as their traditions and religion. The section on the Romani language was especially interesting, revealing that its base was Sanskrit with a generous sprinkling of words from the various countries the Gypsies have lived in during the last thousand years. Further sections detail the historical importance of wagons, occupations favored by the Romani, the lore of the dancing bear, and traditional law among the people. The history of the Romani throughout the generations, focused primarily on the hardships faced by these people because of the prejudice of various European cultures, and moved into the Holocaust and the intolerance aimed at the Gypsies throughout the ages. The final piece in the book is an illustrated map which highlights the Romani population around the world. I found this an excellent text for research and general information purposes. I would have also liked web links and additional titles for those interested in learning more about the Gypsies. Nevertheless, a solid read. 2005, Boyds Mills Press, Ages 8 to 12.
—Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Kyuchukov and Hancock, both Romanies, offer a brief, useful introduction to their people. Misnamed "Gypsies" since the 15th century because they were mistakenly thought to be Egyptians, the Romani, and their customs, have been deeply misunderstood. In clear language, the two-page chapters explain their way of life. Marriage, childbirth, occupations (fortune-telling, woodworking, bear-training), traditional law, and death are touched upon. Historical hardships, from mistrust by local populaces to persecution by the Nazis, are also discussed. One statement, "Even today....In some places we are forced to live with curfews in walled ghettos with no running water or electricity," lacks documentation. It would be helpful to know where and why these abuses occur. Endpapers show Romani population around the world. Plentiful, full-color photographs, both contemporary and archival, show these people as hardworking, celebratory, and family-oriented. A boxed sample of the Romani language is included. Anne Wallace Sharp's The Gypsies (Gale, 2003) offers more in-depth information.-Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Writing in a collective personal voice, Kyuchukov and the director of a Romani research center offer brief comments on their people's history, customs and culture. Sandwiched between statements from the co-authors and a world population map, single-topic spreads offer both general information and plenty of captioned photos, both old and contemporary. Readers will come away with a clear idea of what the Romani have in common and of the diverse adaptations they have made in order to survive in the many countries to which they have scattered in their thousand-year history. The inside slant gives this quick once-over unusual authority-though Anne Wallace Sharp's Gypsies (2002) is only one of several more detailed studies. (Nonfiction. 9-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781563979620
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2005
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 7 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Hristo Kyuchukov is a leading figure in the advancement of human rights for Romani children. He teaches at the University of Veliko, Tarnovo, and lives in Sophia, Bulgaria. He is also the author of My Name Was Hussein.

Ian Hancock is director of The Romani Archives and Documentation Center at the University of Texas at Austin. He was Ambassador for the Romani people to the United Nations, and in 1998 was appointed by President Clinton as the sole Romani member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

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