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A Gift from Childhood: Memories of an African Boyhood

by Baba Wagué Diakité

Published by Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2010
134 pages
ISBN: 978-0-88899-931-3

Ages 11 - 15

Author/artist Baba Wagué Diakité’s vivid account of his childhood in a small village in Mali, West Africa, is defined by stories and storytelling, and full of affection and humor. Diakité describes life with his grandparents and extended family members and his childhood escapades, weaving in family stories and tales he grew up hearing. These, along with the rhythm and responsibilities of life within the community, ground him in family and tradition and values. Diakité had a particularly close relationship with his grandmother, and with his mother, who lived in the city but came to visit him and participate in important events, and the strength of those relationships and the gifts of his early childhood are evident throughout a narrative that also describes how he became an artist and storyteller and eventually moved to the United States. He and his family return often to the people and places of his childhood—the roots that continue to nourish him. The occasional illustrations in this memoir are hand-painted tiles in Diakité’s distinctive style. Most of them are beautifully composed scenes of village life, glazed in rich colors and full of warmth and occasional whimsy.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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