PPBF – A Story About AFIYA

Today’s Perfect Picture Book is one of a handful of picture books included in the New York Times’ list of top 25 children’s books of 2020. I think you’ll agree that it deserves this honor!

Title: A Story About AFIYA

Written By: James Berry

Illustrated By: Anna Cunha

Publisher/Date: Lantana Publishing/2020

Suitable for Ages: 3+

Themes/Topics: fantasy, nature, multicultural, poetry

Opening:

Afiya has fine black skin that shows off her white clothes and big brown eyes that laugh and long limbs that play.

She has a white summer frock she wears and washes every night that every day picks on something to collect, strangely.

Brief Synopsis:

Each day, as young Afiya ventures forth, the wonders of nature that she experiences imprint themselves upon her white dress.

Links to Resources:

  • Decorate a white sheet or other cloth or paper with the scenes of nature you experienced today;
  • Do you have a favorite outfit? Why is it your favorite? Draw a picture of yourself wearing this outfit;
  • Read and enjoy poems about winter.

Why I Like this Book:

Poetic language and dreamy illustrations combine to chronicle the wonders of nature as experienced by a young black girl, Afiya. On the title page, readers learn that Afiya (Ah-fee-yah) is a Swahili name that means health.

Like a young child’s mind, the “white as new paper” dress transforms each day, bearing the imprints of all that Afiya explores and enjoys, from colorful flowers to tigers at the zoo. And as a child’s mind resets after a good night’s rest, so, too, does the dress become a blank slate each morning, after Afiya has washed it each night.

I love the pure joy expressed in the text and the soft illustrations. Afiya almost appears to dance off of the page. I also find the focus on nature so refreshing.

If you’re looking for a picture book to help you forget about our current stress-filled times, I highly recommend A Story About AFIYA.

A Note about Craft:

James Berry (1924-2017) was a celebrated Jamaican poet who lived most of his adult life in Britain. In his text, I think he utilizes the white dress as a metaphor for an inquisitive child’s mind, that soaks up the wonders of nature each day and is washed clear each night, ready to absorb more of nature’s refreshing tonic the following day.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

3 responses to “PPBF – A Story About AFIYA

  1. The cover on this book is graceful and beautiful. It draws you to the story. I love the idea behind the story about the imprinting of nature and what a child does everyday on their clothing. It’s simply gorgeous! You know how to pick them!

  2. What an interesting premise. That lovely cover and your wonderful review make me really curious. I can’t wait to find this one.

  3. This sounds like such a lovely book! But after studying what sleep does for the brain, I’m thinking that instead of washing away all of what’s happened from the day, it gets incorporated in those tiny, developing neural networks. The dress, OTOH, gets a new start each day. I love that cover! Will add it to my TBR list. Thanks for the rec!

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