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John Steptoe was born in New York and wrote and illustrated many successful children's books. His work was often informed by his experiences as a black child living in near-ghetto conditions. He is known for the almost photographic realism of his drawings. John Steptoe died in New York in 1989.
PreS-Gr 3 An African villager named Mufaro had two daughters whom everyone agreed were beautiful. However, their dispositions were not alike: Manyara had a bad temper and was selfish (although not in front of Mufaro); Nyasha was always kind and considerate both to people and to animals. When Mufaro receives word that the Great King is inviting all of the most worthy and beautiful women to appear before him so that he might choose a wife, Mufaro decides that both of his daughters should go. Manyara, believing herself more worthy and beautiful than her sister, sets out alone so that she can be presented to the king before her sister. What happens to each girl along the way depends on her response to the strange people whom she encounters. This folktale shows the traditional qualities, characterizations, and predictability. It is distinguished, however, by its colorful ink and watercolor illustrations of the costumes, artifacts, flora, and fauna of the Zimbabwe region. The expressive drawings of people and events enhance the story and serve to strengthen readers' familiarity with traditional African culture. A magnificently illustrated book, filled with rich textures and vibrant color, and a story that will satisfy young romantics as well as those with a strong sense of justice. Helen E. Williams, University of Maryland, College Park