Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale

by John Steptoe

Paperback(Big Book edition)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780688129354
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/22/1993
Series: Big Books Series
Edition description: Big Book edition
Pages: 32
Sales rank: 331,083
Product dimensions: 14.20(w) x 17.60(h) x 0.20(d)
Lexile: AD720L (what's this?)
Age Range: 4 - 8 Years

About 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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Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
creeh on LibraryThing 23 days ago
mufaro's beautiful daughters is an african folk tale that talks about how kindness wins, and meaness loses. two beautiful sisters live in africa with their father. one is very mean to the other, and the other is very kind to everyone and everything around her. then, the king announces that he will be looking for a wife and all the beautiful women should come to the palace to be determined. the mean sister is very rude to the other sister exclaiming that she will be wueen and her sister will work as a servant to her. throughout the journey to the palace, each of the girls are magically tested to see if they are worthy to be queen, and to no surprise, the mean one fails because she was cruel to the magical beings put before her, and the kind daughter passes the tests famously. she is chosen to be queen, and the mean sister works as her servant.this story has very beautiful pictures, and the story itself draws you in because of the magical factor. all little girls want to be princesses, and this story is perfect at showing that "princesses" are kind and good, while cruelty and badness is not rewarded.you could you this book as a reflective story about manners, and also a turning point for discussion on different cultures fairy tales and folklore.
PeterSinclair on LibraryThing 23 days ago
This is a beautifully illustrated book about King Mufaro and his daughters Manyara and Nyasha. Of course, one is pure and the other is selfish and greedy. Manyara is mean to Nyasha and only dreams of being queen one day. Nyasha is gentle and kind and loves the land. She befriends a snake, who eventually is the king. When Manyara is tested, she fails. Nyasha becomes queen and Manyara becomes her servant.
brookebrush on LibraryThing 23 days ago
Age Appropriateness: IntermediateGenre: FairytaleReview: This is a good example of a fairytale, because it copies the cinderella stories and uses magic.Comments: - Make a KWL chart of fairytales - List similarities and differences between this cinderella story and the one like the disney version.Media: watercolors
cmesa1 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Beautiful African tale that narrates the story of two sister's one that was mean and not nice with others and another one that was kind and always happy to share with others it shows how if you are kind you will receive blessing in your life.
JanetB2 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Beautifully illustrated and written rendition of Cinderella. The elements of African culture give this tale a clever twist on the original.
Juana7 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
A beautifully illustrated African tale of a man, Mufaro, who has two beautiful daughters. One is kind and generous in spirit, while the other is ill-tempered and jealous. When the king sends notice far and wide that he is looking to choose a queen, Mufaro decides to take his daughters to meet the king, but the mean spirited sister steals away in the night to try and meet the king and be named queen before her sister can arrive. Both sisters encounter strangers along the way, but each sister treats them differently. In the end, one is chosen queen. The story follows traditional folk and fairy tale form but is rich in its magnificently illustrated cultural detail which is the tale's true strength.
enagreen on LibraryThing 26 days ago
This book addresses the issues of pride vs. humility and kindness vs. selfishness. It would be a great book to read together as a class or in a small reading group and then have a discussion about how we should treat other people. It would be interesting to talk about motivation and rewards for behavior as well. Just as Nyasha's motivation for being kind was not so that she would be recognized or become queen, our motivation for treating people kindly shouldn't be for recognition.
lhanes on LibraryThing 26 days ago
This book is beautifully illustrated and portrays the story about two beautiful sisters that lived with their father. One sister was very sweet, giving, selfless, and was always helping everyone around her. The other sister was quite the opposite and spoke meanly to her sister when their father was not present. On the idea to go to city and wed the king each sister was tested along the way. Once they arrived, the king knew the true insides of both girls and picked the most worthy and most internally beautiful daughter to be his wife.I loved this book and the moral behind it. It is beutifully illustrated.I would use this book in my classroom in several ways. I could use this during a study of African customs such as the little village and the picking of husband. One could also use this as a lesson of morals and how the good always prevails. With all the great illustrations we could use it as a guide how to blend colors to get the realisitc effect. Also, I could guide a discussion after reading the book about how other cultures differ from their own and how tings have changed.
elpowers on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Another great sister story, this one is good for upper elementary.
artlibby on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Inspired by an African folktale, this story relays the virtue of kindness to its readers. Two sisters who have little in common outside of their shared beauty live with their father in a small village. One sister is bad tempered while the other is kind, a fact they both hide from their adoring father. An invitation from the king to bring forth "The Most Worthy and Beautiful Daughters in the Land" brings these differences to light. The story takes place against a beautiful Zimbabwean backdrop alive with an abundance of greens and brightly colored birds. Highly realistic illustrations depicting the facial expressions of the main characters help tell the story. The book may seem predictable at times, but fantastical elements and a surprise ending will keep readers on their toes. Recommended for elementary school libraries.
spartyliblover on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Manyara and Nyasha are the two beautiful daughters of Mufaro, the sisters are very different in how they treat others and when the King calls for the most worthy and beautiful girls of the land to choose one to be his wife, the sisters differences are what matter. The two sisters and their father are well developed and the beautiful illustrations help to add an additional layer to each character. The plot flows well throughout the story and the pictures help to keep the story moving. The setting is not well described in words other than the first page, but Steptoe's pictures make it so that words are not needed to set the scene. This book would be great in a public library and I would recommend it for parents to read to their children because the African names could be frustrating for beginning readers. Also the moral of the story is clear, be kind, and could be a great stepping stone for parents to talk about being nice with their children.
cvyork on LibraryThing 26 days ago
plot not fully developed because Nyasha never runs into the man without a head. How was this left out?
JMRosecrans on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This was a great example of a fairytale from a different culture. The text and illustrations depict the different values of the African culture such as animals and nature.It is fun to compare this book to Perrault's Cinderella.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Michellesays More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Misticrystal More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Easily under the category of Cinderella story. Beautiful book that introduces kindness and integrity.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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¿.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!