by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon
Schwartz & Wade, 2011. Unpaged. Poetry
In her beautiful prose poem, Patricia McKissack tells the story of Dinga the blacksmith, whose wife died in childbirth and who decided to raise his son by himself, rather than take another wife or give his son to a childless woman. Against all the wisdom of the elders among the women, Musafa grows into a fine young man thanks to his father's love and goodness, and the blessing of the Mother Elements: earth, fire, water, and wind. But comes a day when Musafa leaves the village to collect wood and never comes back. The Elements seek him and find him enslaved and then taken on a ship to America. Dinga languishes and the fires of his forge grow cold, but in time the wind finds its way West as a hurricane and bring back word of a fine young man, a slave about to be freed. Beauty and sorrow find inseparable voice in this memorable story of the anguish of broken families, lost children, and the power of love. The Dillons' illustrations are heartbreakingly beautiful. A classic work, which should long endure.