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Penda, the author, and Amina, the subject of her older sister's book, are the children of the inventive Malian author/illustrator who has shared his culture through retellings of traditional folktales and creative ceramic-tile illustrations with distinctive borders. Now the father uses his art detailing village life in Mali to illustrate a story written by his elder daughter when she was eight. Instead of getting money from the Tooth Fairy, children in Mali get a chicken. Born in Portland, Ore., Amina loses her tooth on a vacation trip to Mali and gets two chickens, a hen and a rooster. When they begin to lay eggs, she hopes that she will see the baby chicks before she has to return home. Diakité includes a recipe for Malian onion sauce, mentioned in the text, a glossary and a goodnight song in Bambara, one of the languages used in Mali. The young author's descriptions offer an amusing introduction to one African country, and an excellent way to encourage children to start writing their own family stories. (Picture book. 5-8)
DIAKITÉ, Penda. I Lost My Tooth in Africa. illus. by Baba Wagué Diakité. unpaged. glossary. CIP. Scholastic. Jan. 2006. RTE $16.99. ISBN 0-439-66226-5. LC 2004001933.
K-Gr 4This story recounts a child's visit to Mali, where she loses her tooth. After she hides it under a calabash, she waits for the African Tooth Fairy to replace it with a chicken. When her patience runs out and she returns to the gourd to retrieve her tooth, a chicken and a rooster emerge. She is delighted. The strength and enduring warmth of her African extended family emerge fully through thoughtful detail. Grandma N'na gives her a blessing each morning: “May you rise high with strength and knowledge.” When the child returns home to Oregon, Uncle Madou volunteers to take care of the chickens until her return. The vivid ceramic-tile illustrations expand the text, revealing a range of animals, houses, and greenery. At the end are the words to Grandma's “Good Night Song,” the recipe for African Onion Sauce, and a glossary of Bambara words, all of which add to the authentic feel of the story. In his illustrator's note, Baba Diakité states, “Storytelling is a gift to me from my elders and I simply wanted to pass this gift along to my children.” He has succeeded, as his artistry supports his daughter's storytelling beautifully.Alexa L. Sandman, Kent State University, OH
The creator ofThe Magic Gourd teams up with his teenage daughter for this story, based on the time the author's younger sister, Amina, actually did lose a tooth in Mali, while visiting their father's family. "My dad says if you lose a tooth in Africa and put it under a gourd, you will get a chicken from the African Tooth Fairy!... So I try tricks with my tongue to help it come out faster," writes Diakité, narrating as her sister, Amina. As the heroine waits for the tooth to come out, she also describes a fascinating daily rhythm within her paternal grandmother's African home, depicted as a walled compound. "Aunt Kadja has made my favorite dinner. It's rice and onion sauce with African eggplant and tiny noodles. We all eat together around one big bowl. Everyone eats with their right hand." After dinner, neighbors come by to play games and tell stories. With often whimsical touches, Baba Wagué Diakité illustrates a vibrant life among banana palms, birds and brightly dressed relatives and friends. Patterned borders surround each illustration, created on a ceramic tile (e.g., feathers and eggs decorate the scene of Amina's new hen laying eggs; even loose teeth come into play). Young readers may well be intrigued by how universal a milestone it is to lose a tooth, while learning the unique lifestyle of this warm and welcoming West African family. Ages 4-8.(Jan.)
With text by thirteen-year-old Penda Diakité and illustratio