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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Africans Thought of It, written by Bathseba Opini and Richard B Lee. Annick Press, 2011. $11.95 ages 8 and up

"Injera is a spongy bread
that was first made in Ethiopia.
Traditionally, people used flour
made from teff (a cereal grain)
to make injera. Water and salt
were mixed with the teff
flour to create a dough. The
dough was then put aside for
three days before it was placed
on a large clay plate called a
mogogo and baked over a fire."

This is the fourth book in this wonderful and informative series. Our knowledge of the world is heightened when we share books such as these with our children. I am in awe of the things that people think about and the 'amazing innovations' that they develop over time.

Bathseba grew up in Kenya, learning the tales and traditions of the Abagusii from her family. She helped on the farm and learned much before moving to Canada. She never forgets her homeland:

'there are many things I miss from my life in Africa: the beautiful natural landscapes, the night sky filled with bright stars, the way the moon seemed to smile down on me, and the wonderful hospitality of the African people."

In sharing so much of her beloved continent, she hopes that we will come to know why she loves and misses it so much. Richard Lee lived and worked in Botswana in the early 1960s and has made Africa the center of his life's work. Both authors convey their love and respect for the land and its people.

Two opening maps show the African countries and then the topography, including the Sahara, the Kalahari, the Nile and Niger Rivers...all helpful in keeping the reader connected geographically to the written text. In two to four page spreads they include detailed descriptions, with clear and colorful photographs, of hunting, agriculture, architecture, metalworks, medicine and healing, arts and crafts, communication, food, music and sports.

In the final section, before the back matter that includes a timeline, further reading and a useful index, the authors provide a brief look at Africa today. They share their thoughts on tourism, the environment, and some of Africa's world leaders...Kofi Annan, Mohamed ElBaradei, Wangari Maathai and Nelson Mandela.

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