August 2, 2009

Once Upon a Time...

Well, after a long hiatus I'm back. Just wrapped up a three-month stint reviewing contracts for a company involved in the pharmaceutical industry. Talk about a learning a different language!

Anyway, after being tied into the earthly world of contracts, I've been re-reading my collections of folktales from around the world. So, it was with great pleasure I stumbled across one of my favorite childhood fairytale books at a nearby thrift store, Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters. The breath-taking artwork in this book transports you to the old African kingdom of Zimbabwe. This story, often referred to as an "African Cinderella" (although, I think it's much richer than Grimms' or Perault's stories), describes the journeys of Mufaro's two attractive daughters to win the heart of the local king. One daughter, Manyara is cruel to her sister and others, while Nyasha is kind, even to her sister. I'm sure we can all guess, who wins the hand of the king :)

I loved this book as a child. I first read it in third grade (my teacher Mrs. Moore had a delightful classroom library) and instantly liked it better than the other fairy tales I'd read. Nyasha won the king's heart purely due to her kindness (most of the European heroines win their princes' hearts due to their kindness and beauty). Plus, Nyasha had a pet snake. How cool is that?

For some cuteness, check out these third-graders acting out the story complete with a brief overview of some Swahili words:



If I woke up tomorrow with a billion dollars, one of the first things I'd do would be to fund an animated version of this class story. In fact, I'm surprised no one has done so yet but then again from what I'm hearing about a certain production of "The Princess and the Frog," perhaps I should be grateful...

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