"In African Icons, Baptiste engages in the hard work of unveiling the myths about the African continent to young readers . . . This is a great beginner's guide to pre-colonial Africa." --Ibram X. Kendi, National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist
Meet ten real-life kings, queens, inventors, scholars, and visionaries who lived in Africa thousands of years ago and changed the world. Black history began long ago with the many cultures and people of the African continent. Through portraits of ten heroic figures, author Tracey Baptiste takes readers on a journey across Africa to meet some of the great leaders and thinkers whose vision built a continent and shaped the world. Illustrator Hillary D. Wilson's brilliant portraits accompany each profile, along with vivid, information-filled landscapes, maps, and graphics for readers to pore over and return to again and again.
This riveting nonfiction work by Baptiste (the Jumbies series), aiming to reveal how "Africa has fueled the world," details the lives of 10 individuals, including Aesop, Merneith, Terence, and Tin Hinan, from African dynasties that are rarely mentioned in, and frequently deliberately eliminated from, world history. Interspersed passages of context convey a rich account of innovative, oft-untold breakthroughs that took place in Africa before European colonization: forming a functioning government, exporting goods such as turquoise and copper, and creating fine literature that evolved into the comedy of manners. From Menes's embodiment of the sacred god Horus to nomadic Berbers crossing the Sahara, readers will learn about events and figures with impressive legacies. For example, Hannibal Barca, a war tactician, outstrategized Rome for years using mobile units and the natural environment to his advantage, inspiring myriad military leaders. Each profile is accompanied by Wilson's lush full-color art, depicting African luminaries and kingdoms in all of their glory. Concise and well researched, this robust, historically accurate timeline of the "great continent and its people" will serve as an invaluable resource for years to come. Back matter features an author's note, source notes, and bibliography. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Gr 6-10—To remedy the practice of limiting lesson plans on Black history to enslavement, the Civil War, and the civil rights movement, Baptiste sheds light on the rich and complex pre-enslavement history of the African continent, much of which has been long buried because of the bias and racism of white gatekeepers. Thankfully, Baptiste has unearthed them for young readers through copious research and synthesized them into a spellbinding collection that spotlights 10 historical figures, including writers, kings and queens, and military leaders. Each profile opens with a majestic portrait by Wilson, whose palette of purples and golds imbues the subjects with a regal feel. Interstitial chapters provide background on geography, historical context, and technology. Transitions between selections are smooth; the volume reads more like a cohesive narrative than a group of entries. The language is accessible to upper elementary readers, but the book will find a better home in middle school libraries. The back matter is a librarian's dream, with almost 14 pages of bibliography and source notes, in addition to notes from the author and designer, an index, and further reading. Educators should use this work to discuss how bias in research and history has resulted in groundbreaking figures of color being pushed to the margins. VERDICT An impeccably researched revelation that fills a too wide gap in collections; it's unfair how long it's taken for these histories to be made public to young readers.—Shelley M. Diaz, School Library JournalCopyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.