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An African Princess by Lyra Edmonds

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cover for An African Princess by Lyra EdmondsThis is a lovely, simple story that deals with some complex identity issues without allowing any of those issues to feel heavy. A Mixed Heritage girl goes on a journey that affirms all the parts of her identity—Caribbean African Princess and United States acculturated, freckle-faced, city girl. At the center of this story is Lyra—a freckle-faced brown girl who lives on the tenth floor of an apartment building in the city but her mom tells her she is an African Princess. Starting with the light mentioning of Lyra’s African Princess ancestor captured from Africa and taken to the Caribbean, the story then moves to showing Lyra’s life as a city princess in the United States. Illustrated with collages, that make the reader feel like they are in the middle of an African Diaspora quilt world, the story of African quilts and robes that have traveled around the world as physical surviving representations of African heritage  is shown without being told.

When the kids make fun of her for claiming to be an African Princess, Lyra’s family plans a visit to see her mother’s kin in the Caribbean. Daddy, from whom Lyra has presumably inherited the reddish hair and freckles, helps Lyra count down the days to the trip. In the Caribbean, Lyra’s great aunt, shows her quilts made by hand which they use as Lyra’s royal robes. Lyra’s aunt also explains that from the original African princess in their family who had many children—there are now African Princesses all over the world and Lyra is one of them. After the visit to the Caribbean, Lyra is stronger in her identity as an African Princess. I like the fact that she doesn’t have to give up any part of her heritage to be the African Princess descended from a long line of African Princesses.

Recommendation: Highly Recommended;Age: 5+
Reviewed by: Omilaju Miranda


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