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A Gift from Childhood: Memories of an African Boyhood

Baba Wagué is only four years old when he is sent to the tiny Malian village of Kassar, West Africa, to be raised by his paternal grandparents, according to the family tradition. He is most unhappy about this at first, but under his grandmother’s patient and wise tutelage, he comes to love his close-knit village community, as he listens to his grandmother’s stories, learns about his own history and traditions, and experiences many hilarious and sobering adventures along the way. He learns how to catch a catfish with his bare hands, learns the true meaning of the appearance of a snake in the granary, flees from an army of bees and mistakes a hungry albino cobra snake for a pink inner tube. And he survives, with trepidation and pride, his circumcision — a ceremony that brings together the entire village.

Finally, Grandma Sabou decides that Baba is educated enough to go to school, and he moves back to the city, where his family struggles to provide him with a formal education. But he brings his village stories with him, and in the process of sharing them with his neighborhood, he not only uncovers his immense artistic and storytelling talents, but eventually finds his way to America, where he embarks on a new life as a writer and artist.

Diakité’s engaging storytelling style and bright, bold illustrations make this a beautiful gift book and a wonderful tribute to Malian village life.

$12.95 (as of July 14, 2018, 9:39 pm)

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