Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions by Margaret Musgrove

Note: I occasionally accept review copies from the publisher. Posts written from review copies are labeled. All opinions are my own. Posts may contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation for any purchased items.

My Caldecott challenge: Although these Caldecott winner and honor books are not, for the most part, books I’ve read aloud to my son, I still found them interesting. A few I had strong negative opinions of; they show that even books that earned the Caldecott award do become dated!

I appreciate the ABC book idea behind the 1977 winner (Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions, by Margaret Musgrove, and illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon) but something about it fell flat for me. The illustrations, while detailed, also did not capture my interest; the colors were dull and the illustrations seemed out of focus. I suppose, as with many other picture books, this was a deliberate artistic technique; for me, it was not engaging.

As for the subject, I loved the tidbits about African cultures. Since the author and illustrators spent years researching the cultures highlighted, I know I was reading something somewhat accurate. And yet, I was disappointed. I suppose it was because each of the twenty-six cultures was chosen to fit the alphabet, that only one or two traditions or stories were shared for each culture, and that I didn’t know anything else about each culture. The problem, then, was that this book just didn’t have enough.

I would have loved to learn about the twenty-six largest cultures in Africa or the most important traditions: “African traditions” seems inappropriately broad for a book. Africa is an entire continent! Its indigenous culture deserves more than 26 three-sentence tributes.

Reviewed on November 15, 2010

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}