Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale

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Overview

Mufaro was a happy man. Everyone agreed that his two daughters were very beautiful. Nyasha was kind and considerate as well as beautiful, but everyone — except Mufaro — knew that Manyara was selfish, badtempered, and spoiled.

When the king decided to take a wife and invited "The Most Worthy and Beautiful Daughters in the Land" to appear before him, Mufaro declared proudly that only the king could choose between Nyasha and Manyara. Manyara, of ...

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Overview

Mufaro was a happy man. Everyone agreed that his two daughters were very beautiful. Nyasha was kind and considerate as well as beautiful, but everyone — except Mufaro — knew that Manyara was selfish, badtempered, and spoiled.

When the king decided to take a wife and invited "The Most Worthy and Beautiful Daughters in the Land" to appear before him, Mufaro declared proudly that only the king could choose between Nyasha and Manyara. Manyara, of course, didn't agree, and set out to make certain that she would be chosen.

John Steptoe has created a memorable modem fable of pride going before a fall, in keeping with the moral of the folktale that was his inspiration. He has illustrated it with stunning paintings that glow with the beauty, warmth, and internal vision of the land and people of his ancestors.

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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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Debra Briatico
This African tale from Zimbabwe evokes the Cinderella story in its portrayal of Mufaro's daughters, Manyara and Nyasha, who are summoned before a king looking for a suitable wife. The scheming, selfish Manyara plots to appear first at the palace, while her considerate, loving sister takes time on the journey to care for hungry and elderly people. Manyara's haste does not work to her benefit and eventually causes her undoing. The colorful and richly textured illustrations are breath-taking and help make this picture book a favorite among children and adults.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3 An African villager named Mufaro had two daughters whom everyone agreed were beautiful. However, their dispositions were not alike: Manyara had a bad temper and was selfish (although not in front of Mufaro); Nyasha was always kind and considerate both to people and to animals. When Mufaro receives word that the Great King is inviting all of the most worthy and beautiful women to appear before him so that he might choose a wife, Mufaro decides that both of his daughters should go. Manyara, believing herself more worthy and beautiful than her sister, sets out alone so that she can be presented to the king before her sister. What happens to each girl along the way depends on her response to the strange people whom she encounters. This folktale shows the traditional qualities, characterizations, and predictability. It is distinguished, however, by its colorful ink and watercolor illustrations of the costumes, artifacts, flora, and fauna of the Zimbabwe region. The expressive drawings of people and events enhance the story and serve to strengthen readers' familiarity with traditional African culture. A magnificently illustrated book, filled with rich textures and vibrant color, and a story that will satisfy young romantics as well as those with a strong sense of justice. Helen E. Williams, University of Maryland, College Park
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-This cassette read-along of the Caldecott Honor picture book by John Steptoe (Lothrop, 1987) is an extremely effective presentation of a traditional Zimbabwe folk tale about a man with two daughters the deceitful, selfish Manyara and her sister Nyasha, who is good and generous. When the King sends for a bride, he chooses Nyasha after appearing to her disguised as a snake and a young boy. Narrator Robin Miles' intonation and pacing have an African cadence. Her voice is pleasant, and she varies her tones to create the different characters. Sound effects of jungle animals, rushing water, and background voices add to the presentation. The sound of a page being turned is used to cue listeners to follow the text in the book. This should be included in all library audio collections for young children.-Diane Balodis, Alden Intermediate School, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688040451
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/1987
  • Series: Reading Rainbow Series
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 47,714
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD720L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.25 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

John Steptoe was born in Brooklyn. From early childhood, he drew pictures and told stories with them. He started work on Stevie, his first picture book, when he was sixteen, and Stevie was published three years later to outstanding critical acclaim. Since then, he has written and illustrated many successful books for children.

John Lewis Steptoe, creator of award-winning picture books for children, was born in Brooklyn on September 14, 1950 and was raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of that borough. He began drawing as a young child and received his formal art training at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan. He was a student in the HARYOU-ACT Art Program and instructed by the highly recognized African American oil painter, Norman Lewis. He also studied at the Vermont Academy, where he was instructed by the sculptor, John Torres, and William Majors, a painter acclaimed by the Museum of Modem Art for his etchings and print-making.

His work first came to national attention in 1969 when his first book, Stevie, appeared in its entirety in Life magazine, hailed as "a new kind of book for black children." Mr. Steptoe, who had begun work on Stevie at the age of 16, was then 18 years old.

In his 20-year career, Mr. Steptoe illustrated 15 more picture books, ten of which he also wrote. The American Library Association named two of his books Caldecott Honor Books, a prestigious award for children's book illustration: The Story of Jumping Mouse in 1985 and Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters in 1988. Mr. Steptoe twice received the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration, for Mother Crocodile (text by Rosa Guy) in 1982, and for Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters.

While all of Mr. Steptoe's work deals with aspects of the African American experience, Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters was acknowledged by reviewers and critics as a breakthrough. Based on an African tale recorded in the 19th century, it required Mr. Steptoe for the first time to research African history and culture, awakening his pride in his African ancestry. Mr. Steptoe hoped that his books would lead children, especially African American children, to feel pride in their origins and in who they are. "I am not an exception to the rule among my race of people," he said, accepting the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Illustration, "I am the rule. By that I mean there are a great many others like me where I come from."

Mr. Steptoe frequently spoke to audiences of children and adults about his work. He was the 1989 winner of the Milner Award, voted by Atlanta schoolchildren for their favorite author.

John Steptoe died on August 28, 1989 at Saint Luke's Hospital in Manhattan, following a long illness. He was 38 years old and lived in Brooklyn. Mr. Steptoe was among the small handful of African American artists who have made a career in children's books.

John Steptoe was born in Brooklyn. From early childhood, he drew pictures and told stories with them. He started work on Stevie, his first picture book, when he was sixteen, and Stevie was published three years later to outstanding critical acclaim. Since then, he has written and illustrated many successful books for children.

John Lewis Steptoe, creator of award-winning picture books for children, was born in Brooklyn on September 14, 1950 and was raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of that borough. He began drawing as a young child and received his formal art training at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan. He was a student in the HARYOU-ACT Art Program and instructed by the highly recognized African American oil painter, Norman Lewis. He also studied at the Vermont Academy, where he was instructed by the sculptor, John Torres, and William Majors, a painter acclaimed by the Museum of Modem Art for his etchings and print-making.

His work first came to national attention in 1969 when his first book, Stevie, appeared in its entirety in Life magazine, hailed as "a new kind of book for black children." Mr. Steptoe, who had begun work on Stevie at the age of 16, was then 18 years old.

In his 20-year career, Mr. Steptoe illustrated 15 more picture books, ten of which he also wrote. The American Library Association named two of his books Caldecott Honor Books, a prestigious award for children's book illustration: The Story of Jumping Mouse in 1985 and Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters in 1988. Mr. Steptoe twice received the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration, for Mother Crocodile (text by Rosa Guy) in 1982, and for Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters.

While all of Mr. Steptoe's work deals with aspects of the African American experience, Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters was acknowledged by reviewers and critics as a breakthrough. Based on an African tale recorded in the 19th century, it required Mr. Steptoe for the first time to research African history and culture, awakening his pride in his African ancestry. Mr. Steptoe hoped that his books would lead children, especially African American children, to feel pride in their origins and in who they are. "I am not an exception to the rule among my race of people," he said, accepting the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Illustration, "I am the rule. By that I mean there are a great many others like me where I come from."

Mr. Steptoe frequently spoke to audiences of children and adults about his work. He was the 1989 winner of the Milner Award, voted by Atlanta schoolchildren for their favorite author.

John Steptoe died on August 28, 1989 at Saint Luke's Hospital in Manhattan, following a long illness. He was 38 years old and lived in Brooklyn. Mr. Steptoe was among the small handful of African American artists who have made a career in children's books.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Beautiful Story! Highly Recommended!

    This Caldecott Honor book, inspired by a story collected from the people of Zimbabwe, is somewhat similar to the classic Cinderella fairy tale in that it contains sisters, one jealous of the other, and one royal invitation to all the girls in the kingdom. Yet this story offers much more because it contains important life lessons: "Pride goes before a fall" and "Treat others the way you would want to be treated" (The Golden Rule). The illustrations are absolutely breathtaking. Highly recommended!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 17, 2009

    Stunning book about kindness

    This is my favorite childhood book. I always tend to order this to donate to the B&N book drive whenever they coordinate it with the local firehouse, school, or library event. The illustrations are simply gorgeous and the plot memorable. It is an excellent book with a wonderful lesson in kindness for young elementary children to read. I love this book and I hope you will too.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2008

    A FAVORITE

    Easily under the category of Cinderella story. Beautiful book that introduces kindness and integrity.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2008

    Beautiful story for all ages

    This story truly emphasizes the importance of being kind. I liked how the prince was different characters in the book to test the sisters personality/reactions. Strangly enough, upon reading the story you can see their beauty within their actions (the best of the story overall). This book makes a great gift for the family not only because of the moral (in which these days is hard to come by), but also because of the gorgeous artwork.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2008

    Great book

    My mother gave me this book when i was a little girl and i loved it. By the way my name is Nyasha. It made me feel so special to know the origins of my name.Great story too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2007

    Check this out!

    The story is about two young laidies, daughters of a man called Mufaro that lived in a small vilage. One of them was named Maryara and she was greedy and selfish. The other one was kind and nobleand her name was Nyasha.One day the king wanted to marry one of them. So of they went on their journey to the city. When they arived the king choose the one who had been kind with all. Other people should read this book because it teaches you that you should always help the needy and be noble with all. But it doesn't just tell you there in the text'you should always be noble, ' instead this book has magical creatures that tell be the story what the deep mesage is.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2007

    Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters

    Mufaro¿s Beautiful Daughter¿s is an African Tale about two beautiful sisters who are very different. One is sweet, generous, and loving to everyone and the other is very selfish. Both sisters are invited to appear before the king and he will choose one of them to become queen. Manyara is very jealous of Nyasha because everyone talks about how kind you are, and they praise everything you do¿I am certain that father loves you best.¿ Manyara thinks that one day she will become queen and Nyasha ¿will be a servant in [her] household. When Manyara comes upon a boy on her journey who says ¿please¿I am hungry,¿ she replies, ¿I have brought only enough for myself.¿ Then she says ¿out of my way boy.¿ When Nyasha begins the same journey to the king, she comes upon the same little boy. Before he says anything, she ¿handed him a yam she had brought for her lunch.¿ As they make their journey to see the king only one girl will be chosen to be queen. Read this exciting story to find out which sister will become the queen and which one will become the servant? Mufaro¿s Beautiful Daughters was inspired by a folktale by G.M. Theal. The amazing illustrations were inspired by the ruins of an ancient city found in Zimbabwe, and the flora and fauna of that region. In Shona language: Mufaro mean ¿happy man¿ Nyasha means ¿mercy¿ Manyara means ¿ashamed¿ Nyoka means ¿snake¿.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2007

    Mufaro's Two Very Different Daughters

    Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters is a wonderful children's book with a very special message. The book tells the story of two beautiful daughters, one is very kind hearted and the other is spiteful and jealous. The girls are informed that the king of their land is looking for a wife and one of them will be chosen to be his queen. The spiteful daughter does everything in her power to make sure to become queen. The other daughter, although excited, is not particularly eager to leave her home. As both girls journey to meet the king they each encounter situations along the way. In the end, it is the way they chose to address these situations that will determine who becomes queen. This story has a very important moral. First, always treat people kindly and with respect. Next, even though people may be beautiful on the outside, true beauty lies within.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2006

    A wonderful Story!

    This is yet another beautiful book by John Steptoe. In this book there are two beautiful daughters, one very mean and unappreciative of everything, while the other is extremely caring and loving. One day their father hears about the King requesting all beautiful and available young ladies in the kingdom to come so that he may choose a wife. The mean sister, hoping to get a head start on the other girls, left to go to the king early. Along the way she encountered several things, a young boy on the side of the road, an old woman, and some very strange trees all of which she had no time for and couldn¿t be bothered by in her rush to see the king. The next morning when the other sister began traveling to see the king, she encountered all of the same things, however, she took the time to help each of them out. Read this beautiful story to find out how it concludes, will the king reward selfishness or rather a kind, caring, selfless woman? The author of this book, John Steptoe, was born in Brooklyn, New York. He began writing his first picture book when he was only 16 years of age. He has won several awards, including two Caldecott Honor Awards and two Coretta Scott King Awards. As well, for his many talents the American Library Association now gives the John Steptoe Award for New Talent to a black author and black illustrator each year.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2005

    Beautiful

    I saw this book on Reading Rainbow when I was a kid and it still sticks with me. It needs to be made into a movie...or that would ruin its charm. It has a beautiful moral and GORGEOUS illustrations. Once I have kids, this will be on the shelf!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2003

    A MUST FOR CHILDREN

    I read this beautiful book to my children when they were babies and thru elementary school when they read it to me. It is an absolute delight. Beautifully written and illustrated. I have bought 20 plus copies; I bought one for my four children, and gave them as gifts to relatives, friends, and my youngest son's Third Grade Teacher! This is one book that should be made into a movie for all children and adults to see.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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