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The Village that Vanished

The Village that Vanished

5.0 1
by Kadir Nelson
Young Abikanile and all of the villagers of Yao feel safe hidden deep within the African jungle. But word has come that the slavers are on their way! Abikanile looks to her mother and her grandmother for strength and guidance. These two brave women come up with a plan to fool the slavers and protect their tribe. But as the villagers retreat into the forest, Abikanile


Young Abikanile and all of the villagers of Yao feel safe hidden deep within the African jungle. But word has come that the slavers are on their way! Abikanile looks to her mother and her grandmother for strength and guidance. These two brave women come up with a plan to fool the slavers and protect their tribe. But as the villagers retreat into the forest, Abikanile finds that she too has the courage to help her people stay safe and free.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The creator of The Village of Round and Square Houses sets another moving tale on African soil, this time recounting how a small village escapes a band of slave traders. Young Abikanile and her mother, Njemile, guide their fellow villagers in an ingenious escape, but it requires both courage and faith. In the style of an African storyteller, Grifalconi uses expressive prose to eloquently recount the anxious and poignant atmosphere as villagers prepare to flee deep into the forest to wait out the slavers. First, they must wipe out all traces of the village of Yao (except for the elder, Chimwala, who elects to stay and pose as a soothsayer): "The people stood back, then, leaning on their hoes, their tears wetting the soil where their homes had rested, as the smell of freshly turned earth rose about them." Nelson's (Just the Two of Us) oils, heavy on dusky tones, fill in finely detailed pencil drawings to convey the dense flora of the African jungle as well as the gait, poise and feelings of the villagers. Crosshatched shadings add subtle texture to their dark skin, while a small white flower or brightly colored batik provides sophisticated contrast. In an especially effective scene, Njemile tells her daughter of the slavers who "come riding in swiftly on horseback, shooting their long guns, capturing unarmed farmers" while shadowy images of them, guns raised at the ready, eerily appear as dark clouds against an orange sky. An uplifting tale of inner strength and courage. Ages 5-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
The story of how Abikanile's Yao village is saved from the dreaded slavers is told as if by a traditional griot or African folk teller. Hearing that the slavers are coming, Abikanile's mother Njemile prays to their ancestors for help for the unprotected women, children, and old men. She then reveals her plan: the villagers must disappear into the woods, erasing all traces of their homes. Only Abikanile's grandmother Chimwala, too old to move, decides to stay. The villagers dismantle their houses and hide their possessions, rake over the ground, and leave. When they come to a seemingly uncrossable river, Abikanile asks the spirits of her ancestors for help. She sees a stone path emerge across the river, but the others are too fearful to see it. Bravely, Abikanile leads the people across. Meanwhile, Chimwala has courageously faced the slavers. They search in vain for any trace of the people, then go away frustrated, never to return. The importance of both faith and courage are emphasized in this suspenseful, lyrically told original tale. Although not a true folk tale, it has the same flavor. It can also help contemporary readers understand a bit about village life at the time, while conveying some of the frightening threat of being taken as a slave that pervaded sub-Saharan Africa. Nelson's black-line pencil drawings, photocopied and then subtly colored with transparent oil paints, create the jungle village, its many inhabitants, and the countryside into which they flee. We can feel the humidity and sense the anxiety. On the jacket/cover, the slavers emerging as shadows from the clouds behind Abikanile presage the reality to come. Lines are used to build up sculptural forms, used almostlike clay to model bodies, trees, and huts. Nelson also presents vividly real personalities: Abikanile is a girl verging on womanhood; Njemile is a stately matron, and Chimwala a solid yet sensitive symbol of wisdom. The Author's Note adds information on traditional African story-telling and includes pronunciation of the authentic Yao names. 2002, Dial,
— Ken and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2-6-In a folkloric style, Grifalconi tells of an African village whose inhabitants use their wits and their faith in the spirits of their ancestors to hide from the slavers who are approaching. Abikanile's mother devises the plan whereby the Yao dismantle their huts and till the ground where they stood to make it seem as if only one old woman, pretending to be a witch, lives in the vicinity. But it is Abikanile herself who, by calling on ancestral spirits, is shown the stepping stones hidden beneath the surface of the river that allow the villagers to escape. This story celebrating resourcefulness, quick thinking, and community solidarity may inspire and empower readers. Nelson's pencil drawings enhanced with oil paints are wonderfully evocative of place, mood, posture, and expression.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this powerful tale presented in the style of African storytelling, a girl, mother, and grandmother draw upon their individual strengths to help save their Yao village from slave traders. Grifalconi’s (Patrol, p. 663, etc.) use of dialogue and narrative shows how young and old inspire others to overcome their fear by devising a clever idea that will save their people. Nelson’s (Brothers of the Night, 2001, etc.) technique of combining photocopied pencil drawings with oil paints brings to life the lushness of the forest and gives a rich texture to the characters’ faces. On the cover and in a double-page spread the clouds form a silhouette of the slave traders and foreshadow their coming. Warm hues and detail of line effectively capture the excitement of young Abikanile as she dances across a stone path in the river, the pride of Njemile as she convinces her people to trust in her plan, and the stubbornness of old Chimwala as she refuses to leave the place of her ancestors. Pictures of children eagerly listening to a storyteller spin her tale open and close the story. An author’s note explains how a griot uses stories to teach young people their history as well as how to behave. A pronunciation key for the Yao names of the characters is provided to ensure that all who read or listen to this tale will learn " . . . one must answer not only with faith, but with courage . . . " (Picture book. 7-10)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 11.50(h) x 0.19(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

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Village That Vanished 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Aleeya More than 1 year ago
I bought this book so my daughter can start hearing and seeing pictures of what some of our ancestors had to do in order to keep their freedom.  My daughter is 2 years old and she listened to the whole book .