Dende Maro: The Golden Prince

Sally Mallam, Author . Hoopoe $17.99 (36p) ISBN 978-1-933779-48-5

In this creation story that unfolds over “a thousand million years,” a shapeless “longing” strengthens and becomes “a wind,” and eventually the sky, sea and earth and the creatures and people that inhabit them. In turn, the longing of the people results in the birth of a “golden prince” named Dende Maro, who teaches them the necessities of existence as well as how to create words, numbers and art. Mallam's (The Man and the Fox ) illustrations are inspired by 26,000-year-old African rock paintings and range from the initial “longing,” which resembles a single-eyed creature with tentacles, to ethereal, elongated sea animals in rich shades of blue and violet. Despite its ancient inspiration, the artwork can trigger modern associations: an image of mountains, hills and valleys is reminiscent of Salvador Dalí; a depiction of Dende Maro teaching the people to fish, brings to mind pop art, with a silhouetted flock of red and yellow birds. The lack of tangible characters may frustrate some readers, but those with an eye for visual imagery won't be disappointed. Ages 5–up. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 03/01/2009
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