Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bintou's Braids, by Sylvianne Diouf

My daughter Easter, a nine-year-old immigrant from Sudan, loves this book. She strongly relates to little Bintou. Like Easter, Bintou has an overwhelming desire to have her hair braided. Like Easter, she wants to be admired as a beautiful young woman, instead of seen as a silly little girl.

Based on my experiences, the portrayals in this book of a contemporary African village are very authentic. The whole story surrounds the celebration and blessing of a newborn baby. Not only are the land, clothing, and traditions very similar to those of the Sudanese people I know and love, but this book also depicts a uniquely African way of esteeming the wisdom of elders, and it also highlights the practice of using oral fables as tools that entertain as well as instruct. What I like most about this book, though, is the way these values and ways of being aren't foregrounded or played up. They're just part of the landscape. Having traditional African beliefs and values is simply a natural and lovely way to be.

I so wish there were more books like this to feed all three of my girls' emerging, fragile identities.

1 comment:

cloudscome said...

Great review! I'd love to add this to our collection.