Hello friends, and habari gani? Umoja! Tonight marks the first night of the celebration of Kwanzaa, and in the spirit of tonight’s principle (Umoja, or unity), we wanted to read a fable inspired by the holiday. So today we’re reviewing Seven Spools Of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story, written by Angela Shelf Medearis and illustrated by Daniel Minter.
Once upon a time, there was an old man who had seven sons. They lived on a prosperous farm; the sons were handsome and strong and the family wanted for nothing. The only problem was that the seven brothers never seemed to stop fighting. All day long and throughout the night, they would argue with one another, delaying tasks and aggravating everyone around them. When their father passes away, he leaves his sons his fortune – with a catch. In one last attempt to persuade his sons that they are stronger together than divided, he issues them a challenging – perhaps impossible – task, his will informing them that if they cannot complete the task without fighting, they will be turned out of their home, penniless. Can the brothers find it in themselves to work together and bring pride to their father’s memory?
This is a great story with a clever approach to telling the story of Kwanzaa. Using the framework of a traditional fable to explore each principle of the seven nights of the holiday, Medearis weaves a story that not only teaches children these principles, it gives context that can help readers remember and practice them. The folk-art inspired illustrations are gorgeous, bringing the fable to life in riotous color and fluid, striking figures. It’s a bit on the long side for the very young, but JJ sat through it with no problem. There’s even an appendix that teaches readers for to build a rudimentary loom and weave a belt. This is a smart, gorgeous tale that has loads to offer children, whether they celebrate Kwanzaa or not. Baby Bookworm approved!