Kente Colors

Book review by
Jennifer Gennari, Common Sense Media
Kente Colors Book Poster Image
Presents images of African village life.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the beautiful images of African culture overwhelm the rhyming text, which doesn't express the ceremonial and symbolic significance of kente.

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What's the story?

Indigo blue is the African sky, red is a sunset, and gold is a crown in this picture book introducing kente colors.

Kente, a fabric developed by the Ashanti and Ewe people of Ghana and Togo that has become fashionable in the United States, is symbolically connected to its roots in African culture. An author's note explains kente's history and its uses.

Is it any good?

Through vivid paintings, KENTE COLORS presents images of African village life. No story is told; the images are merely distinct displays of various ceremonies and occasions when kente cloth is traditionally worn. In the frontispiece the author only hints at the fabric's popularity in the United States, where, for example, African-American clergy wear kente stoles over their robes. The poem's rhythm is obstructed by the intensity of unrelated paintings by John Ward. Each page, with multihued kente-cloth borders, is bold and bright, yet the dominant color is often hard to identify amid the jumble of other colors.

Kente Colors tries to be about too much at once: history, culture, ethnic pride. The concluding author's note comes too late and only confuses.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about different ways kente is worn. They can go beyond the text to learn more about the symbolism of the colors and patterns.

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