cover image I Lost My Tooth in Africa

I Lost My Tooth in Africa

Penda Diakite, , illus. by Baba Wagué Diakité. . Scholastic, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-66226-0

The creator of The Magic Gourd teams up with his teenage daughter for this story, based on the time the author's younger sister, Amina, actually did lose a tooth in Mali, while visiting their father's family. "My dad says if you lose a tooth in Africa and put it under a gourd, you will get a chicken from the African Tooth Fairy!... So I try tricks with my tongue to help it come out faster," writes Diakité, narrating as her sister, Amina. As the heroine waits for the tooth to come out, she also describes a fascinating daily rhythm within her paternal grandmother's African home, depicted as a walled compound. "Aunt Kadja has made my favorite dinner. It's rice and onion sauce with African eggplant and tiny noodles. We all eat together around one big bowl. Everyone eats with their right hand." After dinner, neighbors come by to play games and tell stories. With often whimsical touches, Baba Wagué Diakité illustrates a vibrant life among banana palms, birds and brightly dressed relatives and friends. Patterned borders surround each illustration, created on a ceramic tile (e.g., feathers and eggs decorate the scene of Amina's new hen laying eggs; even loose teeth come into play). Young readers may well be intrigued by how universal a milestone it is to lose a tooth, while learning the unique lifestyle of this warm and welcoming West African family. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)