Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions

Common Sense Media says

An introduction to 26 African tribes.




Caldecott Medal and Honors

What parents need to know

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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this book's appeal lies primarily in its detailed illustrations, which invite reader reaction. The rather flat writing plays second fiddle to the art and the author's meticulous research.

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What's the story?

Alphabet book, cultural guide, or work of art? Flawlessly researched by the author and the illustrators, ASHANTI TO ZULU is all three. Using unremarkably written but straightforward fact-telling, plus earth-toned artwork worthy of a museum wall, the book introduces its readers to a slice of life from each of twenty-six African tribes.

Is it any good?


ASHANTI TO ZULU is filled with authentic details of African tribal life, and the research behind this book is impressive. The illustrators consulted many sources before completing the artwork, but Leo and Diane Dillon, known for astoundingly gorgeous art, have balanced accuracy with beauty. They are meticulous down to the last details: You'll find intricately patterned clothing and authentic jewelry and headdresses.

This attention to detail may overwhelm younger kids and the flat, factual writing may bore some children. But with so much information packed into these colorful pages, all readers will learn something new. Taken in small doses, these pages are endlessly fascinating, and may prompt further discussion, research, and projects.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the distinctions among the tribes. What were some of the surprises for you? How could you learn more if you wanted to?

Book details

Author:Margaret Musgrove
Illustrators:Diane Dillon, Leo Dillon
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publisher:Penguin Group
Publication date:January 1, 1977
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Award:Caldecott Medal and Honors

This review of Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bystkimmie October 4, 2010

Transcends from pre-schools to high school

It's a wonderful book that transcends as the child ages. For beginners, it's a wonderful alphabet book that is more challenging than the usual A is for Apple. For older children, it contains interesting facts that they can use for more advance social studies projects, including in high school.
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