If Lou were Me and Lived in… the Ancient Mali Empire

Written by Carole P. Roman

Illustrated by Mateya Arkova

Take a step back in time to the 1300’s into The Kingdom of Mali, the most powerful empire in the Western Sudan. Imagine yourself as a child in a wealthy family living in the capital city of Niani at the crossroads of the caravan road that led to Mecca. Your grandfather and father are important advisers to the king. There is no written language. As the griot, your grandfather’s job is to hold in memory and recite the history of the people.

This book details the story of the Mandinka people. Learn about the culture and religions of the people, the farmers, artisans, and slaves who kept the economy functioning. The roles of family members differed greatly according to gender and order of birth. Foods, customs, and manner of dress are examined. At the end of the story, the author provides portraits of many of the individuals discussed as well as vocabulary words unfamiliar to readers from other parts of the world.

Arkova does a marvelous job of capturing the essence of the text in simple, colorful illustrations that portray its meaning in visual terms. There is an extraordinary amount of information packed into this picture book. Younger children will enjoy the illustrations, but I highly recommend it for children in grades five through eight as well. Wonderful classroom reference resource for teachers to place in their bookcase.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and voluntarily chose to review with my honest opinions for no monetary compensation.

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