Cover image for When Africa was home
Title:
When Africa was home
Author:
Williams, Karen Lynn.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Orchard Books, [1991]

©1991
Summary:
After returning to the United States, Peter's whole family misses the warmth and friendliness of their life in Africa; so Peter's father looks for another job there.
General Note:
"A Richard Jackson book."
Language:
English
Reading Level:
570 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.2 0.5 6099.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.5 2 Quiz: 12440 Guided reading level: P.
Geographic Term:
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780531059258

9780531085257
Format :
Book

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PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
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Summary

Summary

The small white child in this picture book feels alien when his family returns to America. He can't wait to go back to the warm African village where he ran free with his friends under a wide sky. . . . The joyful text and Cooper's boldly drawn, glowing of washed pictures evoke the intensely physical experience of the small child, his delight in the place and culture, what it feels like to belong there.--Booklist, starred review.


Author Notes

Floyd Cooper was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He received a degree in fine arts from the University of Oklahoma. After graduating, he worked as an artist for a major greeting card company. In 1984, he came to New York City to pursue a career as an illustrator of books. The first book he illustrated was Grandpa's Face written by Eloise Greenfield. He received a Coretta Scott King Award for his illustrations in The Blacker the Berry and a Coretta Scott King Honor for Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea and I Have Heard of a Land.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4-7. In a nice reversal of Fritz' Homesick [BKL S 1 82], the small white child in this picture book feels alien when his family returns to America. He can't wait to go back to the warm African village where he ran free with his friends under a wide sky. Peter's no visitor to Africa; he's lived there since he was a baby. He likes the food, and he's learned the table manners; he speaks the Chichewa language; he feels part of the community. His parents promise him a kitten in America, but in Africa "he could hear the hippos moo and the hyenas groan and the drums sing in the distance." His close friend, Yekha, calls him Achimwene, "Little Brother." She's darker than he is, even though he's suntanned, but their tongues are the same color, and when he leaves, he tells her Ndizabweronso, "I will come back." And he does. One day his father gets another job, and the family returns to the village that is kwatu, home. Williams, who also wrote Galimoto [BKL Mr 15 90] set in Malawi, spent several years in Africa in the Peace Corps. Though Africa in the title is a bit generic, this is far from the tourist stereotype. The joyful text and Cooper's boldly drawn, glowing oil-wash pictures evoke the intensely physical experience of the small child, his delight in the place and culture, what it feels like to belong there. To Peter, it's Americans who talk funny.--Hazel Rochman


Publisher's Weekly Review

When Africa was Peter's home, he slid down anthills and chased chickens with his friends--including Yekha, the daughter of his mayi --nanny. When his father's work in Africa is finished and the family returns to America, Peter finds that everything about his new, urban lifestyle is alien to him--and very unappealing. At last Peter and his parents are able to return to Africa, and Yekha welcomes her happy friend home. Williams, author of Galimoto , lived in Africa for several years and obviously has strong emotional ties to that land and its people. This lends a warmth and credibility to her story, told with a gentle, soothing cadence. The cherubic Peter is intermittently brought in and out of focus in Cooper's affecting oil wash paintings, filled with muted color and a frequently radiant light. Ages 3-6. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-- Peter, a white American, is entirely at home in a Malawian village. He slides down anthills in the hot sun, chews sugarcane with his friend Yekha, and runs with the goats. When he has to go to America with his parents, he feels displaced, and waits patiently until their joyful return to the village, where he is once again at home. Williams evokes Africa as the ultimate playground, a place of warmth, belonging, and freedom. Cooper's luminous paintings in oranges, yellows, greens, and blues contribute to this image, as they show Peter and Yekha playing against a background of shimmering heat. The warmth of that country is contrasted starkly with the cold of winter in America. Peter's story tends to lose its flow in the descriptions of daily life. However, continuity is provided by frequent use of the phrase, ``when Africa was home,'' and by the use of Chichewa words followed by their English equivalent. Cooper's portrayal of people varies: his profiles of faces are usually more successful than his frontal views. Peter's face changes from page to page, and so does his apparent age. Also, although the use of Chichewa places the book in Malawi, some characters appear West African in their style of dress. The book is successful as a read-aloud, but the print is also large enough for independent reading. It will be most useful to those looking for material for multicultural units. --Susan Giffard, Englewood Public Library, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.