Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: Nyasha is kind and considerate, but everyone—except Mufaro—knows that Manyara is selfish and bad-tempered.
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters
A Caldecott Honor and Reading Rainbow book, this memorable retelling of Cinderella is perfect for introducing children to the fairy tale as well as the history, culture, and geography of the African nation of Zimbabwe.
Inspired by a traditional African folktale, this is the story of Mufaro, who is proud of his two beautiful daughters. Nyasha is kind and considerate, but everyone—except Mufaro—knows that Manyara is selfish and bad-tempered.
When the Great King decides to take a wife and invites the most worthy and beautiful daughters in the land to appear before him, Mufaro brings both of his daughters—but only one can be queen. Who will the king choose?
Award-winning artist John Steptoe’s rich cultural imagery of Africa earned him the Coretta Scott King Award for Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters. The book also went on to win the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. This stunning story is a timeless treasure that readers will enjoy for generations.
About the Author
John Lewis Steptoe, creator of award-winning picture books for children, was born in Brooklyn on September 14, 1950 and was raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of that borough. He began drawing as a young child and received his formal art training at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan. His work first came to national attention in 1969 when his first book, Stevie, appeared in its entirety in Life magazine, hailed as “a new kind of book for black children.” Mr. Steptoe, who had begun work on Stevie at the age of 16, was then 18 years old.
While all of Mr. Steptoe’s work deals with aspects of the African American experience, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters was acknowledged by reviewers and critics as a breakthrough. Based on an African tale recorded in the 19th century, it required Mr. Steptoe for the first time to research African history and culture, awakening his pride in his African ancestry. Mr. Steptoe hoped that his books would lead children, especially African American children, to feel pride in their origins and in who they are. “I am not an exception to the rule among my race of people,” he said, accepting the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Illustration, “I am the rule. By that I mean there are a great many others like me where I come from.”
John Steptoe died on August 28, 1989 at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan, following a long illness. He was 38 years old and lived in Brooklyn. Mr. Steptoe was among the small handful of African American artists who have made a career in children’s books. Read more about him here.
A Few Reviews
“The story starts with Mufaro, a man with two beautiful daughters whom he loves equally. Because of this love, he can find no fault with either of them. So, when he hears that a prince is looking for a beautiful wife, he believes that both of his daughters have a chance at true happiness. Both daughters set out to see the prince, but along the way they will be given three trials that test the source of true beauty–their heart. I loved this story as a child, and I still love the story now. Not only is it based on South African folklore, but it also features beautiful and warm illustrations on each page.” —Amazon Reviewer Ericka
From the Back Cover
Mufaro was a happy man. Everyone agreed that his two daughters were very beautiful. Nyasha was kind and considerate as well as beautiful, but everyone — except Mufaro — knew that Manyara was selfish, badtempered, and spoiled. When the king decided to take a wife and invited “The Most Worthy and Beautiful Daughters in the Land” to appear before him, Mufaro declared proudly that only the king could choose between Nyasha and Manyara. Manyara, of course, didn’t agree, and set out to make certain that she would be chosen. John Steptoe has created a memorable modem fable of pride going before a fall, in keeping with the moral of the folktale that was his inspiration. He has illustrated it with stunning paintings that glow with the beauty, warmth, and internal vision of the land and people of his ancestors.