Cover image for The village that vanished
The village that vanished
Grifalconi, Ann.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dial Books for Young Readers, 2002.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
In southeastern Africa, a young Yao girl and her mother find a way for their fellow villagers to escape approaching slave traders.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.6 0.5 59608.
Added Author:
Format :


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

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Young Abekenile and all the villagers of Yao feel safe sheltered deep within the jungle. But word has now come that slavers are on their way! Abekenile looks to the women of her tribe: her mother, who comes up with a clever plan to fool the slavers, and a tribal elder, who stays behind to face the slavers, steadfast in her trust that the ancestor-spirits will watch over her. But as the villagers retreat within the forest, it is Abekenile who finds that she too has the bravery and daring to help her people stay safe and free.

Kadir Nelson's lush and striking artwork beautifully expresses this inspiring tale.

Author Notes

Ann Grifalconi wrote and illustrated The Village of Round and Square Houses , which won a Caldecott Honor Award.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2^-5. The sub-Saharan Africa setting is an essential part of this slave escape story about how the Yao people save themselves from foreign marauders. Young Abikanile hears that the slavers are coming to her village on horseback with long guns. They have captured the young hunters. How will the women and children survive? The villagers work out a plan to make their homes disappear, not by fire that will attract attention but by taking apart their village. Stick by stick and stone by stone, they destroy the evidence of their lives and blend into the forest. The slavers storm in, but the village is gone. Abikanile finds a path of stones across the river, and she leads her people to freedom. Nelson's beautifully textured pictures in pencil and oils show the intricate, loving detail that drives the story. Each thread of cloth, each leaf of tree and stem of thatch, each stone and bit of soil is part of the natural whole, and ordinary people defeat the powerful by living in harmony with the small things. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

The creator of The Village of Round and Square Houses sets another moving tale on African soil, this time recounting how a small village escapes a band of slave traders. Young Abikanile and her mother, Njemile, guide their fellow villagers in an ingenious escape, but it requires both courage and faith. In the style of an African storyteller, Grifalconi uses expressive prose to eloquently recount the anxious and poignant atmosphere as villagers prepare to flee deep into the forest to wait out the slavers. First, they must wipe out all traces of the village of Yao (except for the elder, Chimwala, who elects to stay and pose as a soothsayer): "The people stood back, then, leaning on their hoes, their tears wetting the soil where their homes had rested, as the smell of freshly turned earth rose about them." Nelson's (Just the Two of Us) oils, heavy on dusky tones, fill in finely detailed pencil drawings to convey the dense flora of the African jungle as well as the gait, poise and feelings of the villagers. Crosshatched shadings add subtle texture to their dark skin, while a small white flower or brightly colored batik provides sophisticated contrast. In an especially effective scene, Njemile tells her daughter of the slavers who "come riding in swiftly on horseback, shooting their long guns, capturing unarmed farmers" while shadowy images of them, guns raised at the ready, eerily appear as dark clouds against an orange sky. An uplifting tale of inner strength and courage. Ages 5-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-6-In a folkloric style, Grifalconi tells of an African village whose inhabitants use their wits and their faith in the spirits of their ancestors to hide from the slavers who are approaching. Abikanile's mother devises the plan whereby the Yao dismantle their huts and till the ground where they stood to make it seem as if only one old woman, pretending to be a witch, lives in the vicinity. But it is Abikanile herself who, by calling on ancestral spirits, is shown the stepping stones hidden beneath the surface of the river that allow the villagers to escape. This story celebrating resourcefulness, quick thinking, and community solidarity may inspire and empower readers. Nelson's pencil drawings enhanced with oil paints are wonderfully evocative of place, mood, posture, and expression.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.