My line sister KMarie sent a text today asking me for 2 of my favorite children’s books. I didn’t ask her about age groups or ethnic backgrounds of the children in question. but instantly brought up the two books that ALWAYS come to mind first: Aida and Mufaro’s beautiful Daughters. Aida is a story line that is great for middle-schoolers, while Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters is great for preschool and younger elementary school-aged children.
I had the pleasure of seeing Aida on Broadway in New York in 2003(?), when Elton John and Tim Rice collaborated to create this awesome musical based on the storybook version of Giuseppe Verdi‘s Italian-language opera with the same name. The illustrated storybook was written by Leontyne Price, who is an American operatic soprano best known for the title role in Verdi’s Aida. When I was able to see the musical, the leading role was played by singer Toni Braxton. (Over its run, the musical has also included stars such as Michelle WIlliams of Destiny’s Child, Heather Headley and Deborah Cox). By the end of the musical I was in tears! It is such a great story and seeing one of your favorite children’s books come alive on stage is such an amazing feeling! I read that the final performance in NYC was in September of 2004. Maybe it will come back there or in another city and I can see it again?! (PS, you can click the performers’ names to see videos of their Aida performances).
But enough of the musicals… now, back to the books! Here are the summaries from Amazon:
Aida (difficult to find in hardcover these days but worth it if you can get it!)
There’s no voice like that of opera singer Leontyne Price, and in this retelling of Aida, published in paperback for the first time, we discover that her writer’s voice is equally moving. This tale of the Ethiopian princess-turned-slave, her soldier lover, and their inevitable tragedy is a favorite of Price, who reveals her feeling of sisterhood with the doomed Aida in the book’s afterword. Price brings just enough distance to this story of love, jealousy, war, envy, and suicide to temper her passion. Telling the tale of Aida, one of the world’s most famous–and tragic–operas, in appropriate language and tone is a task to which Price is more than equal. – Amazon.com Review
(PreSchool-Grade 3) An African villager named Mufaro had two daughters whom everyone agreed were beautiful. However, their dispositions were not alike: Manyara had a bad temper and was selfish (although not in front of Mufaro); Nyasha was always kind and considerate both to people and to animals. When Mufaro receives word that the Great King is inviting all of the most worthy and beautiful women to appear before him so that he might choose a wife, Mufaro decides that both of his daughters should go. Manyara, believing herself more worthy and beautiful than her sister, sets out alone so that she can be presented to the king before her sister. What happens to each girl along the way depends on her response to the strange people whom she encounters. This folktale shows the traditional qualities, characterizations, and predictability. It is distinguished, however, by its colorful ink and watercolor illustrations of the costumes, artifacts, flora, and fauna of the Zimbabwe region. The expressive drawings of people and events enhance the story and serve to strengthen readers’ familiarity with traditional African culture. A magnificently illustrated book, filled with rich textures and vibrant color, and a story that will satisfy young romantics as well as those with a strong sense of justice. – Review by Helen E. Williams, University of Maryland, College Park
For the item of the day, I have had my eyes on this necklace for some time now… Its from Objets d’Envy, a local Chicago jewelry company. At $662, this handmade piece is out of my current shopping budget but is soooo worth saving up for! (That is, if one of my lucky readers doesn’t snatch it up first!) This truly artistic piece of jewelry (its so much more than necklace) is titled “Tresor”, which means “treasure”…
Be sure to check out the other items from Chicago designer Kirsten over at Objets d’Envy!
Click below to go right to Amazon and purchase the books or the Broadway CD of Aida!