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ISBN: 9780395764817
Author: Wisniewski, David (ILT)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Published: January 1999
Retail: $7.99    OUR PRICE: $1.99
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Binding Type: Paperback
Annotation: The story of Sundiata, son of the king of Mali in the time of the great trading empires of Africa some eight hundred years ago, is a powerful tale of courage and determination. As a boy, Sundiata was unable to speak or walk. He overcame these obstacles, but was driven into exile by a rival queen. When Mali was overrun by intruders, 18-year-old Sundiata returned to defeat them and reclaim the throne. Full color.
Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Fiction | Historical | Africa
Library of Congress Subjects:
Mandingo (African people); Biography; Juvenile literature.
Mandingo (African people); Kings and rulers; Juvenile literature.
Kings, queens, rulers, etc.
Dewey: 966.23/01/092
LCCN: 91027951
Lexile Measure: 820
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 1-2, Age 6-7
Book type: Easy Fiction
Target Grade: 1-2
Grade level: 1-2
Physical Information: 0.25" H x 25.00" L x 9.00" W
Bargain Category: Picture Books, Historical Fiction, Early Elementary
Grade level(s): 1st, 2nd
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.
Publisher Description:
In the thirteenth century, Sundiata overcame physical handicaps, social disgrace, and strong opposition to rule the West African trading empire of Mali.

Contributor Bio(s):
David Wisniewski (wiz-NESS-key) was born in Middlesex, England, in 1953. After training at Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, he spent three years as a clown, designing and constructing his own props, costumes, and gags. He was subsequently hired by his future wife, Donna, as a performer with a traveling puppet theatre. Married six months later, the Wisniewskis started their own troupe, Clarion Shadow Theatre, specializing in shadow puppetry. In the course of creating the plays, puppets, and projected scenery, Mr. Wisniewski evolved the storytelling techniques and art skills that eventually led to his picture books with their unique cut-paper illustrations. His retelling of GOLEM was awarded the 1997 Caldecott Medal. David Wisniewski died in 2002 in the Maryland home he shared with his wife and two children.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 1999 February #2)
A 13th-century prince overcomes physical infirmities and exile to rule Mali; of the artist's "stunning" cut-paper collages, PW said, "Historically accurate images are sharp without starkness, expressive of raw power and delicate fragility by turns." Ages 5-9. (Feb.) Copyright 1999 Publishers WeeklyReviews
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 1992 October #3)
In the oral tradition of the griots (minister-like functionaries ``with the wisdom of history''), Wisniewski brings to life a story of courage from the African country of Mali. Sundiata, born to the King and his second wife, ``proved unable to speak or walk,'' and despite glowing predictions for his future he is hounded from his country. After years of exile, he is invited back to oust a tyrant and return his land to prosperity and peace. This retelling, though imbued with dignity and intelligence, proves somewhat confusing. Children may not be able to follow the convoluted series of events, while the multiplicity of characters--most with strange, hard-to-pronounce names--could well befuddle even the most assiduous reader. Wisniewski's stunning cut-paper illustrations, however, introduce to the text a striking vitality and beauty. Historically accurate images are sharp without starkness, expressive of raw power and delicate fragility by turns, and full of strong dynamism and motion. Bright rainbow colors capture the fabrics of Africa, and the text's patterned borders are suggestive of kilim rugs. An unremarkable narrative redeemed by inspired artwork. Ages 5-9. (Oct.) Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information.
Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 1992 October)
Gr 2-4-- An appealing biography of Sundiata, credited as the founder of the Mali empire. A lengthy author's note informs readers as to how little firsthand information on the topic is available, and that what is known has been handed down orally by griots , or African storytellers. Therefore, the narrative has the distinctive, if somewhat mystical, flow of an oral history. Sundiata neither walks nor speaks for the first seven years of his life, but is still named heir over his older brother. Regardless of the pronouncement, following the king's death, Sundiata and his mother are forced into exile. How the Lion King of Mali defeats his enemies and becomes the rightful ruler makes for an exciting tale. Wisniewski's characteristic artwork (vivid colored paper designs that have been intricately cut, arranged, mounted, and then photographed) add to the drama of the tale and are consistent with the folkloric tone. The characters have personality and vitality, and the setting has a texture and richness that heightens climactic moments of the story. Neither straightforward biography nor folktale, this is an interesting combination of the two. While some younger listeners may have difficulty following the somewhat choppy nature of the narrative as years fly by between the major events, older children will appreciate both the flavor and intrigue. All in all, another fine effort from a talented author/illustrator. --Linda Greengrass, Bank Street College Library, NY Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information.