Thursday, October 28, 2010

Seven Spools of Thread - A Kwaanza Story

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Title: Seven Spools of Thread : A Kwaanza Story
Author: Angela Shelf Medearis
Daniel Minter
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Ages: 6-10

Set in a small village in Ghana, Africa is this story of the seven Ashanti brothers who fight and argue day and night. Their tired father leaves a conditional inheritance for his sons upon his death. The village chief hands out seven spools of thread of different colors, one spool to each brother and tells them about the conditions that need to be met so they could get their inheritance :

1. They must convert the spools of thread into Gold - and this to be done before the moon rises
2. They must not argue or fight while they are doing (1).

The Ashanti brothers are perplexed and angry. Has anyone ever heard of thread turning into Gold? They look at the threads for hidden gold but to no avail. They could each weave a cloth out of their spools but that would not fetch them any gold. Had their father set them an impossible task? Would they lose their inheritance?

How they eventually weave the threads together and create Kente (multicoloured cloth) and in the process how they follow the seven principles of Kwaanza forms the rest of the story. But wait a minute - what is Kwaanza?

There is a foreword on how the festival Kwaanza was begun by an African American Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966. Kwaanza (means first fruits in Swahili) is a community festival based on ancient African customs and is celebrated between Dec 25 until Jan 1.

During Kwaanza the seven principles (Nguzo Saba) are to be discussed and deliberated on.
Umoja (I am we), Kujichagulia (Self Determination), Ujima (community responsibility), Ujamaa (economic strength of the community), Nia (personal goals that benefit the community), Kuumba (creativity used to benefit the community) and Imani (faith in oneself and one's community) are each celebrated on one day of Kwanzaa.

For an older child it is educative to try and find the principles in the story. The author includes a craft activity at the end of the book that involves making a loom and weaving a kente belt.


Meera Sriram said...

Oh, I know about Kente now, and now I know what Kwanza means too:)
Was surprised that it has been around only since 1966. Learning a lot here..thanks Poppins. Seems like a great book for kids all over the world!

Meera Sriram said...

And the seven candles - seven principles, seven days..mmm...

Anusha said...

We loved learning about Kwanzaa last holiday season through Santa's Kwanzaa, now one more dimension to that with the Kente cloth! Thanks for a neat pick, Poppy.

sandhya said...

Much food for thought, Poppy. Seems like a wonderful book. Must look it up.

I am learning so much about Africa, too. Loving it.

artnavy said...

I love Kente. Thanks for the Intro P's mom.

the mad momma said...

wow, wow, wow... i wish these lovely books were available at indian stores. i hate ordering online. half the joy is in browsing...

ranjani.sathish said...

I read this book in the library a month back and was so fascinated by the foreword and the story. Till then I never knew about the history of Kwanza festival...this book was truly enlightening and I loved the idea of the festive spirit woven into a story for children to find out !! Great pick Poppins mom !

Choxbox said...

Seen this one but never picked it up - will do now and report back!

utbtkids said...

Beautiful review Poppy.

Poppy said...

@Meera: I was surprised too - although I'ce seen the hallmark cards for Kwaanza, had not learnt too much about the festival.
And yes seven candles for seven principles lit on seven days :)

@Kodi's Mom: I have not read that book - will look for it.

@Sandhya: Yes it's a nice book i like how the principles are woven in the story - that of community and working together towards a goal.

@Art: I hadn't even heard of Kente until I read this book and now thanks to Sheela I know quite a bit about it

@MadMomma: Isn't there a library close by? I picked this up for a library here. I agree with you about browsing in person.

@Ranjani: Thanks to your suggestion to pick it up, truly enjoyed it.

@Chox: Please do!

@Utbtkids: Thanks!

starry eyed said...

YAY! I found this at the Bangalore Book Fair...for...hold your breath...Rs. 30 at a second hand shop, it was just sitting on top of a pile...we already finished reading it and we LOVE it!!! Daughter enjoyed figuring out the 7 principles...thanks Poppy for reviewing it!!

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