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*Never Forgotten (Junior Library Guild Selection)* by Patricia McKissack, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon
Also by Patricia McKissack:

Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee's Bend Quilt

Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters, and Other Wily Characters

Also illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon:

Earth Mother

The People Could Fly
Never Forgotten (Junior Library Guild Selection)
by Patricia McKissack, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon
Ages 4-8 48 pages Schwartz and Wade October 2011 Hardcover    

Approaching the issue of slavery from an entirely new perspective, Patricia McKissack tells the story of a young boy captured in Africa and enslaved in America. Never Forgotten is told from the point of view of his father, a blacksmith left behind in Africa. Enlisting the mother elements of Earth, Fire, Water and Wind, the free verse poetry tells a poignant tale which will cause a thoughtful reader to pause and consider the pain of slavery through the eyes of those left behind.

The story begins in 1725 with a warning– “Beware of pale men riding in large seabirds.” Dinga becomes a single father when his wife dies in childbirth. Contrary to custom, he raises his son alone, apprenticing him as a blacksmith. One day, the boy, Musafa, is taken away on a slave ship. Heartbroken, Dinga calls upon the elements to search for him.

In turn, Earth, Fire, Water and Wind search and find the boy. In their own voices, they tell the story of Musafa’s capture and struggle, his journey across the ocean, and finally his sale to a blacksmith. Concluding with an author’s note–her research, the belief in the elements and the legend of the hurricane as African in search of her lost children—Never Forgotten is a powerful tribute to a terrible history which must be remembered.

Leo and Diane Dillon’s woodcut and watercolor illustrations extend each poem with sharp black outlines against a white background, the elements depicted in brilliant pastels. The poetry itself is strong, evoking feelings of time, place and emotion–especially the horrible unfairness of the kidnappings, the fear and the danger.

Best read with children who already have some background knowledge on the slave trade, each poem should be read and considered before moving on. There is a deep sadness to this book, yet also strength. Never Forgotten is as much a story about captivity as it is about endurance and survival.

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  Kristine Wildner/2012 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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