cover image African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History

African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History

Tracey Baptiste, illus. by Hillary D. Wilson. Algonquin, $19.95 (176p) ISBN 978-1-61620-900-1

This riveting nonfiction work by Baptiste (the Jumbies series), aiming to reveal how “Africa has fueled the world,” details the lives of 10 individuals, including Aesop, Merneith, Terence, and Tin Hinan, from African dynasties that are rarely mentioned in, and frequently deliberately eliminated from, world history. Interspersed passages of context convey a rich account of innovative, oft-untold breakthroughs that took place in Africa before European colonization: forming a functioning government, exporting goods such as turquoise and copper, and creating fine literature that evolved into the comedy of manners. From Menes’s embodiment of the sacred god Horus to nomadic Berbers crossing the Sahara, readers will learn about events and figures with impressive legacies. For example, Hannibal Barca, a war tactician, outstrategized Rome for years using mobile units and the natural environment to his advantage, inspiring myriad military leaders. Each profile is accompanied by Wilson’s lush full-color art, depicting African luminaries and kingdoms in all of their glory. Concise and well researched, this robust, historically accurate timeline of the “great [African] continent and its people” will serve as an invaluable resource for years to come. Back matter features an author’s note, source notes, and bibliography. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)