Sundiata: Lion King of Mali‍
by David Wisniewski

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Context & Summary

Sundiata’s father was the ruler of Mali, he had a wife and a son. One day the king has been revealed a prophecy that even though he already has a son, the king’s successor has not been born yet and that his heir will come from a second woman who was said to have great powers herself, The king will Have his second child and he was supposed to be Mali’s greatest king...
Sundiata, born to the King and his second wife, "proved unable to speak or walk" and despite glowing predictions for his future, he is hounded from his country. After years of exile, he is invited back to oust a tyrant and return his land to prosperity and peace. Sundiata is an African tale about a great king in the ancient empire of Mali. This story is often compared to one of my favourites, “The Lion King.” I agree the two stories are very similar. Both portray an heir to a throne that is banished from his land to go through a number of hardships and difficulties which ultimately helps each of them become stronger individuals and more able to return to their nations to assume their rightful heritage. Wisniewski's stunning cut-paper illustrations, introduce to the text a striking vitality and beauty. Historically accurate images are sharp without starkness, expressive of raw power and delicate fragility by turns, and full of strong dynamism and motion. Bright rainbow colours capture the fabrics of Africa, and the text's patterned borders are suggestive of kilim rugs. An unremarkable narrative redeemed by an inspired artwork.

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About the Author
Born in England ,David R. Wisniewski was an American writer and illustrator best known for children's books...
He attended the University of Maryland, College Park but quit after one semester to join the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College, graduating in 1973. He worked for several years as a clown before moving to Maryland and joining the Prince George's Country Puppet Theatre where he met his wife Donna Harris. In 1980, they started the Clarion Puppet Theatre (later known as the Clarion Shadow Theatre) which toured in schools, theaters and at the Smithsonian. After his children were born, he become a full-time author/ illustrator, using layers of cut paper to illustrate children's books. His book Golem, won the 1997 Caldecott Medal. In his acceptance speech, he said of himself: "I am a self-taught artist and writer who depends on instincts developed through years of circus and puppet performance to guide a story's structure and look."

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Reviews & feedbacks

"A 13th-century prince overcomes physical infirmities and exile to rule Mali; of the artist's "stunning" cut-paper collages, PW said, "Historically accurate images are sharp without starkness, expressive of raw power and delicate fragility by turns".

Publishers Weekly "the bible of the book business"

"A splendid resource; a fascinating meld of biography and legend."

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