cover image Kantiga Finds the Perfect Name

Kantiga Finds the Perfect Name

Mabel Mnensa, illus. by Chantelle and Burgen Thorne. Crocodile, $18.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-623-71743-8

Mnensa posits that “what makes you different is what makes you special” in this folktale-leaning picture book debut that centers a name’s significance. Young Kantiga, who thinks her name sounds “heavy,” wants one that’s “fluffy and light,” and when grandmother Gogo picks her up from school, the girl asks to be called Candy. That evening, during storytime, Gogo tells the child about visiting her own grandmother, who “ruled a village called Mzuzu... in the north part of Malawi” and was known to be swift and wise. The woman’s cracked clay pot—kantiga wanga—had the power to revive fruiting foliage daily, offering sustenance to those who picked the bananas, mangos, and other produce it watered. Newly aware of her familial legacy (“We all knew that you would be the next one to take care of the kantiga”), the girl gladly embraces her given name. In softly textured art, the Thornes depict Kantiga and her Black community alongside images of Gogo’s tale in this affirming picture book about familial identity. A brief glossary concludes. Ages 3–8. (May)