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Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters

Last updated Monday, July 25, 2005

Author: John Steptoe and Clarita Kohen (Translator)
Illustrator: John Steptoe
Date of Publication: 1987
ISBN: 0688040454
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Aug. 2005

Synopsis: Mufaro was a happy man. Everyone agreed that his two daughters were very beautiful. Nyasha was kind and considerate as well as beautiful, but everyone ? except Mufaro ? knew that Manyara was selfish, badtempered, and spoiled. When the king decided to take a wife and invited "The Most Worthy and Beautiful Daughters in the Land" to appear before him, Mufaro declared proudly that only the king could choose between Nyasha and Manyara. Manyara, of course, didn't agree, and set out to make certain that she would be chosen.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Does it matter how you act when no one else can see you? Why or why not?
•  Look at the cover. What is the woman in the picture doing? What does she have in her hands? On the other side of the cover, there is another woman. What is she doing?
•  Who do you think these characters are?
•  Where does this story take place? Read the preface before the book begins. If there is a map in the classroom, show them where Africa and Zimbabwe are.
•  What is a folk tale?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Look at the pictures - how do they help tell the story?
•  How would you have handled Manyara if you were Nyasha?
•  How did Manyara treat her sister, Nyasha?
•  Was Manyara nice to the strangers? How did she treat them?
•  How did Nyasha treat the little boy and the elderly woman?
•  Would you have acted as Nyasha did to the snake, the little boy, and the old woman? Why? Would you have done so if you knew that Nyasha did not become Queen?
•  Why did the king pick Nyasha over Manyara?
•  How did the king fool both Manyara and Nyasha?
•  How do you think Manyara felt at the end of the book? How about Nyasha?
•  What do you think happened next to Nyasha and Manyara?
•  How are Nyasha and Manyara different? The same? Is Manyara all mean, and Nyasha all good? Discuss also that Manyara warns Nyasha about the snake and that Nyasha makes Manyara a servant in the household in the end.
•  What parts of the story are magical? What parts might be real? Compare to Cinderella.

Craft ideas:
•  Bring ahead option make a beaded headband or necklace and decorate as in the book. Or make a crown for the king and queen.
•  Cut out a snake shape and make a snake bookmark. Design it, and add a tongue or even a crown if you like. (Or make a bookmark with another symbol from the book). Label the back of the bookmark with the title of the book.

Special activities:
•  Sit in a circle, and tell a chain story - each person adds a line. OR, act out the story. OR, make instruments like the ones in the story, and play.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!