Cover image for Bintou's braids
Bintou's braids
Diouf, Sylviane A. (Sylviane Anna), 1952-
Publication Information:
San Francisco : Chronicle Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm
When Bintou, a little girl living in West Africa, finally gets her wish for braids, she discovers that what she dreamed for has been hers all along.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.3 0.5 57943.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Bintou wants braids. Long, pretty braids, woven with gold coins and seashells, just like her older sister and the other women in her family. But she is too young for braids. Instead, all she has are four little tufts of hair; all she ever gets are cornrows. However, when Bintou saves the lives of her two young cousins and is offered a reward of her choosing, Bintou discovers that true beauty comes in many different forms. Rich, earthy illustrations and a heartwarming story capture the spirit of a West African village in this wise tale about a girl who learns she's perfect just the way she is.

Author Notes

Sylvianne A. Diouf is the author of several books for children. Of Senegalese and French descent, she has lived in France, Senegal, Gabon and Italy. She currently lives in New York with her son.

Shane W. Evans is a fine artist and illustrator who lives in Missouri. Besides showing his work in galleries internationally, he has illustrated four other children's books. This is his first book for Chronicle Books.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 3-7. Growing up in a West African village, a small girl hates her short, fuzzy hair and dreams of when she'll be old enough to have long braids with gold coins and seashells like her big sister. Many children will recognize Bintou's wish to be sophisticated and beautiful, even as they enjoy seeing the particulars of where she lives. Evans' bright, stylized oil paintings, in strong shades of brown with lots of red and blue, show the child with the people in the village and encircled by her loving family. At the Muslim prayer ceremony and the feast celebrating the baptism of her baby brother, Abou, she meets a visitor from America, who talks with an accent and tells her about many girls in her country who have braids. The story (Bintou runs for help to save her two young cousins from drowning, and then she gets to choose her reward) seems added on; the heart of the book is the realistic, contemporary setting in all its rich detail. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

"My name is Bintou and I want braids. My hair is short and fuzzy." So laments the heroine in the straightforward style she uses to narrate her story. Though Bintou dreams birds would enjoy nesting in her hair, she mostly envisions wearing "long braids with gold coins and seashells," as her sister and other young women of her African village do. Her Grandma Soukeye explains that girls are only allowed tufts or cornrows in order to avoid vanity, and relays a village cautionary tale to underscore her moral. Diouf (Growing Up in Slavery) creates strong female characters and evokes the feeling of a small village as extended family. With their large expressive eyes and warm demeanor, the girls and women gracefully move through Evans's (Osceola: Memories of a Sharecropper's Daughter) oil paintings in abundant earth tones and bright African batiks. Subtle footprints and chicken prints in the ochre sand background add depth to the fluid paintings. When Bintou helps save two drowning cousins and asks that braids be her reward, Grandma Soukeye finds a way to adhere to village tradition while acknowledging Bintou's heroism. This heartfelt story affords glimpses of West African customs as it touches on children's universal desire to be treated as grown-ups. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-Bintou wants braids. All she has are four little tufts of hair on her head, and she is always being told that she is too young for the beautiful long braids that her sister and the women of her West African village wear. Little girls have cornrows, she is told, and she must wait. But Bintou, a very believable child, does not want to wait, and when she is offered any reward she can name for saving the lives of two drowning boys, she knows just what to ask for. This lively story is enriched by descriptions and illustrations of village life and customs. There is a great new-baby celebration, where the hands and arms of many villagers are shown high in the air, a stylized representation of unity and joy as the child is raised aloft. The grandmother is shown in her tribal dress, and readers see the beauty of the women with gold coins woven into the braids over their foreheads. Finally there is Bintou, delighted at the decorations in her hair that make her realize how special she is. The oil paintings glow in rich tones of gold, sand, and blue, and the text uses simple narrative language that will read aloud well.-Marian Drabkin, formerly at Richmond Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.