Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters

Steptoe, J. (1987). Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters. New York, NY: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books.

Category: Folk Literature/Multicultural/Award Winning (Caldecott Honor Book)

Synopsis of Book: Mufaro had two beautiful daughters.  Nyasha was kind and compassionate, but her sister, Manyara, was selfish and bad tempered.  One day a messenger came to Mufaro’s home and said that the king decided to take a wife and invited the most worthy and beautiful daughters in the land to come before him.  Manyara believes that she is the only worthy one for the king and insists that she will become queen and that Nyasha will be her servant.  Nyasha and Manyara’s  adventure to the king’s city will show their true character and the king will see them for who they really are.

Use in Classroom: I think it would be neat to have a unit on African culture.  The people of Africa have different perspectives on things than Americans do and I think learning about this ancient culture would benefit the students’ global knowledge.  The illustrations in this book were inspired by the ruins of an ancient city found in Zimbabwe and are breath taking.  Names in African stories are made based on characteristics of that person or character.  For example, Nyasha means “mercy,” Manyara means “ashamed,” and Nyoka means “snake.”  Other African stories (or movies such as The Lion King) could be shown to the class to discuss why and how their names were arrived.  Perhaps they could look up African words and see what their name might be if they were a part of a story.


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