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Sundiata: Lion King of Mali

Overview

In the thirteenth century, Sundiata overcame physical handicaps, social disgrace, and strong opposition to rule the West African trading empire of Mali.

The story of Sundiata, who overcame physical handicaps, social disgrace, and strong opposition to rule Mali in the thirteenth century.

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Overview

In the thirteenth century, Sundiata overcame physical handicaps, social disgrace, and strong opposition to rule the West African trading empire of Mali.

The story of Sundiata, who overcame physical handicaps, social disgrace, and strong opposition to rule Mali in the thirteenth century.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A splendid resource; a fascinating meld of biography and legend." Kirkus Reviews with Pointers

"An appealing biography of Sundiata, credited as the founder of the Mali empire. . . . Wisniewski's characteristic artwork add to the drama of the tale and are consistent with the folkloric tone. The characters have personality and vitality, and the setting has a texture and richness that heightens climactic moments of the story. . . . All in all, another fine effort from a talented author/illustrator." School Library Journal, Starred

"Passed down through oral tradition, this historical account has the drama and depth of a folktale. The illustrations-elaborate collages inspired by the artifacts and culture of the Malinke-create a series of dramatic images. The intricacy of the paper-cuts and the richness of the colors and patterns give the artwork visula as well as narrative strength. In an appended note, Wisniewski discusses the history and art of West Africa as well as his research and technique for creating the illustrations. A striking interpretation." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A 13th-century prince overcomes physical infirmities and exile to rule Mali; of the artist's "stunning" cut-paper collages, PW said, "Historically accurate images are sharp without starkness, expressive of raw power and delicate fragility by turns." Ages 5-9. (Feb.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the oral tradition of the griots (minister-like functionaries ``with the wisdom of history''), Wisniewski brings to life a story of courage from the African country of Mali. Sundiata, born to the King and his second wife, ``proved unable to speak or walk,'' and despite glowing predictions for his future he is hounded from his country. After years of exile, he is invited back to oust a tyrant and return his land to prosperity and peace. This retelling, though imbued with dignity and intelligence, proves somewhat confusing. Children may not be able to follow the convoluted series of events, while the multiplicity of characters--most with strange, hard-to-pronounce names--could well befuddle even the most assiduous reader. Wisniewski's stunning cut-paper illustrations, however, introduce to the text a striking vitality and beauty. Historically accurate images are sharp without starkness, expressive of raw power and delicate fragility by turns, and full of strong dynamism and motion. Bright rainbow colors capture the fabrics of Africa, and the text's patterned borders are suggestive of kilim rugs. An unremarkable narrative redeemed by inspired artwork. Ages 5-9. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Some 800 years ago, according to the story handed down for generations, a rival queen drove the son of a king into exile. Sundiata returns to defeat the intruder and claims the throne. The story is one of a young man who overcomes both physical handicaps and social disgrace. The tale is filled with spectacular images created from cut paper. An author's note provides a summary of the history of Mali and its king, Sundiata.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-- An appealing biography of Sundiata, credited as the founder of the Mali empire. A lengthy author's note informs readers as to how little firsthand information on the topic is available, and that what is known has been handed down orally by griots , or African storytellers. Therefore, the narrative has the distinctive, if somewhat mystical, flow of an oral history. Sundiata neither walks nor speaks for the first seven years of his life, but is still named heir over his older brother. Regardless of the pronouncement, following the king's death, Sundiata and his mother are forced into exile. How the Lion King of Mali defeats his enemies and becomes the rightful ruler makes for an exciting tale. Wisniewski's characteristic artwork (vivid colored paper designs that have been intricately cut, arranged, mounted, and then photographed) add to the drama of the tale and are consistent with the folkloric tone. The characters have personality and vitality, and the setting has a texture and richness that heightens climactic moments of the story. Neither straightforward biography nor folktale, this is an interesting combination of the two. While some younger listeners may have difficulty following the somewhat choppy nature of the narrative as years fly by between the major events, older children will appreciate both the flavor and intrigue. All in all, another fine effort from a talented author/illustrator. --Linda Greengrass, Bank Street College Library, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395764817
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 1/28/1999
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 188,854
  • Age range: 7 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: AD820L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.75 (w) x 10.75 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

David Wisniewski (wiz-NESS-key) was born in Middlesex, England, in 1953. After training at Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, he spent three years as a clown, designing and constructing his own props, costumes, and gags. He was subsequently hired by his future wife, Donna, as a performer with a traveling puppet theatre. Married six months later, the Wisniewskis started their own troupe, Clarion Shadow Theatre, specializing in shadow puppetry. In the course of creating the plays, puppets, and projected scenery, Mr. Wisniewski evolved the storytelling techniques and art skills that eventually led to his picture books with their unique cut-paper illustrations. His retelling of GOLEM was awarded the 1997 Caldecott Medal. David Wisniewski died in 2002 in the Maryland home he shared with his wife and two children.

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