“I Lost My Tooth in Africa” wins Children’s Africana Book Award
When Penda Diakité wrote about her sister losing a tooth during a visit to Mali for a third grade assignment, she never expected it to become an award-winning picture book. But Penda, now in 10th grade, hopes her book, “I Lost My Tooth in Africa”, can inspire other young people to write. “Everyone has stories to tell and experiences to share,” she told Education Update.
Penda, a native of Portland, Oregon, and her father, Baba Wagué Diakité, who illustrated the book, received the award for Best Book for Young Children at a recent ceremony sponsored by the African Studies Association. During their visit to New York, the Diakités visited schools and libraries and participated in a teacher workshop, “Africa in the School Curriculum” held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The book tells how Penda’s sister Amina lost her tooth while visiting family in Mali, which they do every two years. Children in Mali place baby teeth under calabash gourds and the next day, the African Tooth Fairy delivers a chicken. Sure enough, Amina received two chickens, a rooster and a hen. Baba Wagué Diakité takes great pride in his daughter’s accomplishment, noting how the story contributes to multi-cultural understanding. Though he grew up with folk tales told around a fire, he hopes young people today can appreciate the stories from their elders, and pass them on.
Penda, who says her favorite books are S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and all the Harry Potter novels, continues to write and also makes films.
Established in 1991, the Children’s Africana Book Awards seeks to honor children’s literature about Africa for use in schools and libraries.#