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African Icons: Ten People Who Built a Continent

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In a richly designed work with maps, portraits, and graphics throughout, the award-winning author of the Jumbies series shows readers this underrepresented side of Black history and Black excellence. Every year, American schoolchildren celebrate Black History Month. They study almost exclusively American stories, which are not only rooted in struggle over enslavement or opp In a richly designed work with maps, portraits, and graphics throughout, the award-winning author of the Jumbies series shows readers this underrepresented side of Black history and Black excellence. Every year, American schoolchildren celebrate Black History Month. They study almost exclusively American stories, which are not only rooted in struggle over enslavement or oppression, but also take in only four hundred years of a rich and thrilling history that goes back many millennia across the African continent. Through portraits of ten historical figures—from Menes, the first ruler to be called Pharaoh, to Queen Idia, a sixteenth-century power broker, visionary, and diplomat—African Icons takes readers on a journey across Africa to meet some of the great leaders and thinkers whose ideas built a continent and shaped our world.


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In a richly designed work with maps, portraits, and graphics throughout, the award-winning author of the Jumbies series shows readers this underrepresented side of Black history and Black excellence. Every year, American schoolchildren celebrate Black History Month. They study almost exclusively American stories, which are not only rooted in struggle over enslavement or opp In a richly designed work with maps, portraits, and graphics throughout, the award-winning author of the Jumbies series shows readers this underrepresented side of Black history and Black excellence. Every year, American schoolchildren celebrate Black History Month. They study almost exclusively American stories, which are not only rooted in struggle over enslavement or oppression, but also take in only four hundred years of a rich and thrilling history that goes back many millennia across the African continent. Through portraits of ten historical figures—from Menes, the first ruler to be called Pharaoh, to Queen Idia, a sixteenth-century power broker, visionary, and diplomat—African Icons takes readers on a journey across Africa to meet some of the great leaders and thinkers whose ideas built a continent and shaped our world.

30 review for African Icons: Ten People Who Built a Continent

  1. 4 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    5 stars A stunning collection, accessibly told and beautifully illustrated. A must-read for all, frankly, regardless of age. This reader (me) learned a lot and loved the reading experience. Artwork: ★★★★★ Ease of reading: ★★★★★ Enjoyment: ★★★★★ Author Tracey Baptiste starts out this collection in the same way that I'd like to start this review: How much do we, as global citizens, really know about Africa's influence on the world's culture and history? When we celebrate Black History Month in the Unit 5 stars A stunning collection, accessibly told and beautifully illustrated. A must-read for all, frankly, regardless of age. This reader (me) learned a lot and loved the reading experience. Artwork: ★★★★★ Ease of reading: ★★★★★ Enjoyment: ★★★★★ Author Tracey Baptiste starts out this collection in the same way that I'd like to start this review: How much do we, as global citizens, really know about Africa's influence on the world's culture and history? When we celebrate Black History Month in the United States, the narrative is almost exclusively tied to the discussions of enslavement and European-American oppression inflicted on African individuals in the relatively recent past. We rarely, if ever, go further back than that. Due to this limited scope on history—and, as a larger conversation that the author addresses, due to biases and misinterpreted histories that exist of those prior time periods—little is commonly known to this day in popular history and culture about the African continent. In this collection, the author delves into those histories and global ties that bind Africa to our earliest beginnings of culture, language, and civilization. Who molded dynasties? Who built the cities? What African man was the richest man to ever live in the world? What women shaped our earliest cultures? I learned a tremendous amount of information in this slim volume, and frankly I was shocked at my own lack of basic knowledge—in the briefly of introduction examples in the author's first section, she shares the literal size of the African continent without its usual distortions in our most common world maps. Did you know that the countries of the United States, China, India, Japan, Eastern Europe, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, and more ALL fit within the borders of the African continent? I did NOT. In other words, Africa is second only to Asia in terms of sheer continental size. That is just one brief, yet large, example of the knowledge to be gained from this extremely readable and enjoyable collection of short stories on Africa's earliest figures. I loved it and am thrilled to help spread the word about this collection. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review. Blog | Instagram

  2. 4 out of 5

    Katelynne

    Excellently researched and gorgeous illustrations.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Boyd

    Fabulous nonfiction audiobook. I hope that Baptiste continues writing about African history.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central In her introduction to this book, Ms. Baptiste mentions that every February, for Black History Month, her children would bring home a single sheet of paper about Black history, that usually doesn't even venture outside of the US. Given the impressive range of African history, this is quite a gap in the education about this continent. This book helps, although we still need many more books like it. In a fashion similar to collective biographies about kings ARC provided by Young Adult Books Central In her introduction to this book, Ms. Baptiste mentions that every February, for Black History Month, her children would bring home a single sheet of paper about Black history, that usually doesn't even venture outside of the US. Given the impressive range of African history, this is quite a gap in the education about this continent. This book helps, although we still need many more books like it. In a fashion similar to collective biographies about kings and queens of England, we are introduced to ten historical figures, ranging from rulers to writers to military leaders. Some, about whom little is known, may be new to readers (such as Menses and Meneith, Egyptian rulers, and Mansa Musa, the richest man of all time), and others (like Imhotep, Hannibal Barca, Terence, and Aesop) offer additional, thought provoking information about well known figures. Each short biography is accompanied by a beautiful illustration by Wilson, bordered in pages decorations based on extant artwork from that person's culture. In between these chapters are helpful descriptions of some of the societal constructs, historic framework, or rarely covered facts. These chapters cover topics such as the use of metal in the ancient world, how nature helped inform African stories, and how other powers invaded the continent and enslaved its inhabitants. These chapters help readers understand some of the things that happen to the biographical figures or what their world would have looked like. There are plenty of interesting facts to tuck away for future reference. I found the chapter on Aesop, particularly, to be fascinating and informative. The Greeks had many writers and educators who were enslaved, but their histories are often not addressed. I thought it was interesting that Terrence, for example, is so much better known than Ennius! Because there are so few books on African history, this could have easily been a whole series of books covering a range of topics. I also wish that there had been a few more maps, and that the book design would have included some sidebars and photographs of the African landscape. There is a lot of children's nonfiction that includes elements like this, in order to break up the text, and this book certainly deserved a similar treatment. Wilson's illustrations are lovely, but it would have been helpful to have a few smaller ones incorportated in the chapter, showing some of the Egyptian gods, portrayals in art of Hannibal Barca, or examples of ancient manuscripts, especially since it is so hard to find books on these topics. I can only hope that we see more books on African history aimed at middle grade readers, and that in a few short years I might be able to list a number books that are similar to this one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alyson Stone

    Book: African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History Author: Tracey Baptiste Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars I would like to thank the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, for providing me with ARC. This is my fourth book by Tracey Baptiste and I really enjoy her writing style. I feel like her books don’t get the attention and praise they deserve. Since I enjoyed her Jumbies books, I went into this one with high expectations and I was not disappointed. While this is a middle grade book, there is so much det Book: African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History Author: Tracey Baptiste Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars I would like to thank the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, for providing me with ARC. This is my fourth book by Tracey Baptiste and I really enjoy her writing style. I feel like her books don’t get the attention and praise they deserve. Since I enjoyed her Jumbies books, I went into this one with high expectations and I was not disappointed. While this is a middle grade book, there is so much detail and information. The pictures are amazing and the overall set up of this book is great. This is also more than looking at ten important Africans. Tracey gives you a look at the culture, history, and economic system of Africa throughout its history-ending with the European colonization. I like that it is easy to read, yet gives you what you need. Each person’s section isn’t very long, but it gives you a little bit about them, how they came into power, and the impact they had on the world. It is right amount of information and the right length for middle schoolers. I teach middle school history-if these entries were any longer I know my own students would probably lose interest in them. Not only that, but by giving us a little bit of a shorter entry, it gives students a reason to go out and learn more about these people-perhaps even learn about other Africans who were not featured in this book. With all of that being said, we are going to stay with the teacher side of me. One thing that struck me right away was the mix of male and female figures, as well as not solely focusing on kings and queens. One of the reasons that I have developed my own history curriculum is because of diversity in my school’s history books. Women are pretty much left out and they focus largely on Europe. The world doesn’t revolve around Europe and Europe is not where the first humans appeared. It’s Africa, ladies and gentleman. The fact that there is a mixture of male and female characters will make this a hit. A lot of times in history, it seems like women are written out. My girls take this hard. The want a historical female role model and to say that women did have an impact. By including so many women, my girls are going to enjoy this book and will probably look more into these women. Plus, a lot of the boys assume that men are the only ones who can have an impact on history and this book will show them. Sorry, I know I’m not supposed to say that, but I’m trying to get them to open there eyes a little bit. One thing that I would like to see in the future is maybe a whole Icons series from Tracey or if the publisher would make this a series with a similar set up for all parts of the world. I know it would make a great edition to my classroom library-which is where my ARC is going. Anyway, this is a must have to any middle school history teacher or if you have a middle school history loving student in your life. I highly recommend. This book comes out on October 19, 2021. Youtube: https://youtu.be/dAC5n_gn7OE

  6. 5 out of 5

    (Ellie) ReadtoRamble

    4.5 STARS I read this book for a blog tour, so thank you so much to the publisher and the author for letting me take part in this tour, and thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own. African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History by Tracey Baptiste is a fascinating historical nonfiction book about ten different people who were important in building Africa, along with other information about the country. I absolutely loved my time reading this book 4.5 STARS I read this book for a blog tour, so thank you so much to the publisher and the author for letting me take part in this tour, and thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own. African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History by Tracey Baptiste is a fascinating historical nonfiction book about ten different people who were important in building Africa, along with other information about the country. I absolutely loved my time reading this book and I would have liked it to be longer still as I am a total history buff and I loved reading about these people, who for many, I hadn’t heard of before to be totally honest with you. I really appreciate books like this one that go back in time and tell history, not necessarily from the winning side, and I think this book and this author did a fantastic job. I really like reading nonfiction, and history, so I don’t find any of it “boring” or slow just because it’s what I like, but I’m sure that even for people who are not really fans of these genres, they will really enjoy reading this book. I found that it read very easily and seemed almost like fiction because of how fluid it was. It doesn’t info dump even though it’s very factual, which is kind of ironic, but it really wasn’t heavy, it was just the right balance of great writing and historical facts. What also added to the beauty of this book were the numerous maps, portraits and paintings that were done by Hilary Wilson. They were all absolutely stunning and it was lovely to, in a way, add a face to the names and stories, as well as seeing what these places would have looked like at these times in history. I think the whole book worked stunningly, and even more so with the mix of beautiful writing, fascinating information and gorgeous illustrations. I think my favourite chapter was the one about Merneith because I had never once heard of this person before, but I loved finding out more about her. But I equally enjoyed the chapters that didn’t focus solely on people, but more on the lands and practices, it was truly captivating. I’m a total history nerd so there was no question of me liking it, but I have read some very dry and “boring” nonfiction history books, and this was NOTHING like that at all. I guarantee that if you like history, and especially like learning about people and places that are not talked about, then pick up this book! I gave this book 4.5 stars, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The reason I am noting it down a tiny bit is because I wanted so much more, it’s has nothing to do with quality or content, I’m just being greedy!! I know this is a book for young readers, but a couple pages more of each chapter would have fully satisfied me, yes, I am that annoying person who always wants to know more details aha! Otherwise, this was a truly amazing book, both the writing itself and the illustrations that just made it even more special and well-executed. If you love history, you find nonfiction fascinating, you love learning about things and people who are unknown, or maybe not part of “popular history narratives”, and you want to learn more about African, practices, customs, and want to see some beautiful illustrations, then this is the book for you. Pick it up now, you won’t regret it!!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ginni

    I'm feeling lazy, so this review will be a list. * How have I come to the point where I read in the author bio that Tracey Baptiste is the author of "Minecraft: The Crash" and I'm genuinely impressed? Like whoa, that was one of the better Minecraft books my son has made me read. * I should have known about more of these people already. This is riveting history, even though it's not dumbed-down at all--the kind of book that will make kids want to do research to find out more. I'm not a kid and it I'm feeling lazy, so this review will be a list. * How have I come to the point where I read in the author bio that Tracey Baptiste is the author of "Minecraft: The Crash" and I'm genuinely impressed? Like whoa, that was one of the better Minecraft books my son has made me read. * I should have known about more of these people already. This is riveting history, even though it's not dumbed-down at all--the kind of book that will make kids want to do research to find out more. I'm not a kid and it had that effect on me, but we've already established that parenthood has done something to my brain, so take that with a grain of salt. * The illustrations are FANTASTIC and bumped this up to five stars for sure. Kudos to Hillary Wilson for bringing each profile to life in vividly human portraits. * Lots of context setting is necessary to do these stories justice. Baptiste deftly layers in information about the climate, landscape, politics, and world at large wherever it's needed. * Obviously Africa is huge and composed of many countries, and there's a lot of history to cover, so not everything is going to be represented here. But the stories that were chosen are a great "sampler." * It's important to talk about the atrocities that have been committed against Black people, but this book focuses on the Africa that existed before it was exploited--its highly developed civilizations and accomplishments, the stories that often go untold. (I received this book for free through a Goodreads giveaway.)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Haynes

    This book is great for increasing information on the past influence of the African people and I loved how much information that the author was able to give in short overviews. I found that it has made me want to know more information on the people in the chapters as well as hope for a second book so that we can learn of other influential people. I think it is a good book for starting out younger readers on getting them interested in African history as well as the chapters are not so long that th This book is great for increasing information on the past influence of the African people and I loved how much information that the author was able to give in short overviews. I found that it has made me want to know more information on the people in the chapters as well as hope for a second book so that we can learn of other influential people. I think it is a good book for starting out younger readers on getting them interested in African history as well as the chapters are not so long that they younger readers will become distracted with the reading.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mairy

    A nice book for the younger crowd as an introduction to Ancient Egypt and the actors who helped build the country which, let's make sure everybody knows, was completely different from what it is today. Beautiful illustrations, cool stories, a great purchase for children. Thank you Net Halley and the publisher for this e-ARC in exchange of my honest review. A nice book for the younger crowd as an introduction to Ancient Egypt and the actors who helped build the country which, let's make sure everybody knows, was completely different from what it is today. Beautiful illustrations, cool stories, a great purchase for children. Thank you Net Halley and the publisher for this e-ARC in exchange of my honest review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Leah (Jane Speare)

    This is a great introduction to a plethora of African history; it’s not only about specific people but how these individuals influenced cultures, belief systems, and entire civilizations across thousands of years. A lot of this history has been buried under colonized, western narratives. While this book just scratches the surface, it’s an important stepping stone to reintroducing this lost history not only to kids, but people of all ages.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    I received my copy free through Goodreads Giveaways

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    Tracey Baptiste has done a remarkable job in uncovering truths of African culture and notable people who have been buried in our history. It is true, that children in the United States only learn about a limited amount of “safe” African Americans in the US as apart of Black history month, but little is known or studied about Black people from before they were kidnapped and forced to work on these stolen lands. Baptiste shares stories, lessons, history, biographies, and numerous tidbits about Bla Tracey Baptiste has done a remarkable job in uncovering truths of African culture and notable people who have been buried in our history. It is true, that children in the United States only learn about a limited amount of “safe” African Americans in the US as apart of Black history month, but little is known or studied about Black people from before they were kidnapped and forced to work on these stolen lands. Baptiste shares stories, lessons, history, biographies, and numerous tidbits about Black people who survived and thrived in Africa before the Great Middle Passage occurred. She shares that Africa is not the size shown on maps, but larger, and 2nd in size to Asia. Africa, Africans, and Black people in general, have been treated unfairly since the beginning of time, and books like this broadcasts hope and celebrates the greats from the past who put Africa on the map. African Icons delves deep into the lives of 10 notable Africans who contributed great success to their people, their land, and to the world all over. There is Mansa Musa, the richest man of all time, there is Aesop, who was the wisest man in the ancient world, there was Queen Idia, the Kingmaker, and Hannibal Barca, the military strategist, to name a few. This book explores culture, language, architecture, dynasties, treasures, civilizations, and the global ties that held Africa in place through the ages. There was so much I learned in this book, and the illustrations were just phenomenal! Hillary Wilson is a superb artist and was thrilled that she also is a medical illustrator. A career you don’t see many Black people in, and also as a Black woman medical illustrator. Her work is amazing! To be honest, Netflix should pick this up and add it to The Who Was show. It’s only fitting. As this book is geared towards middle grade readers, any child or student could definitely learn from this book and be able to read this book quite easily and be fascinated. This book also provides just enough information to keep you interested, but also makes you curious to learn more. I was so thrilled that Baptiste did not just include men in her book, but also shared some notable women who had great impacts in African civilization, in raising kings, and in running countries. The women were apart of the story from the very beginning and I was happy to see that Baptiste included women who were not just queens, but everyday people who supported and helped rule nations. I would love to see an “Icon” book series that branches out from this book into a series of lessons and stories that share ancient history and/or modern history for children going forward. Thank you to the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, Tracey Baptiste, and Hillary Wilson for this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley A wonderful middle grade primer on prominent, yet often overlooked, figures in African history. These ten short biographies and accompanying stories offer young readers and adults alike an accessible introduction that is sure to instill in them a desire to dig deeper. While rather quick and accessible, there is a bit to be desired in terms of organization and clarity - accompanying stories were sometimes repetitive and support sections could be more I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley A wonderful middle grade primer on prominent, yet often overlooked, figures in African history. These ten short biographies and accompanying stories offer young readers and adults alike an accessible introduction that is sure to instill in them a desire to dig deeper. While rather quick and accessible, there is a bit to be desired in terms of organization and clarity - accompanying stories were sometimes repetitive and support sections could be more robust. I really appreciated the Afrocentric design framing each chapter. These patterns add an engaging layer to the book and an opportunity to explore their historical and cultural significance further. Eager to see a finished hard-copy to appreciate the maps, graphics, and designs as they're meant to.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Libriamo3116

    To most American children, the Black and African history they know is a recounting of United States history, replete with stories of slavery, suffering, and injustice. However, this is a myopic and inaccurate view of the history of such a rich tapestry of culture and people originating from an entire continent. African Icons sets out to inform and provide insight into the great leaders and moments that rippled through history, from pharaohs of Egypt, to stories of wisdom, to strategists who thwa To most American children, the Black and African history they know is a recounting of United States history, replete with stories of slavery, suffering, and injustice. However, this is a myopic and inaccurate view of the history of such a rich tapestry of culture and people originating from an entire continent. African Icons sets out to inform and provide insight into the great leaders and moments that rippled through history, from pharaohs of Egypt, to stories of wisdom, to strategists who thwarted empires, and the bending of natural resources into vast networks of trade and commerce. Whether acknowledged or not, the story of Africa, and its greatest and most influential minds, has shaped humanity in ways that cannot be denied, and must not be exchanged for otherwise convenient historical myths. I think that author Tracey Baptiste and illustrator Hillary D. Wilson have put together an intriguing, easy to understand story about some of Africa's top thinkers and shakers. I'd love to see more books like this, covering previously obscure areas of culture and history in easy to consume formats. The illustrations in African Icons are lush, appropriately themed, and set the tone for the history, stories, and people being discussed. Some names may be familiar to readers, such as Aesop or Hannibal. Others, such as Amanirenas, are much more obscure, and I think it's great to see such a range of stories here. For many, Imhotep may be a dangerous mummy from a popular movie series, yet his real historical contributions to medicine and architecture are profound. African Icons examines the lives of a wide range of individuals as it traverses history. Some had power, and others did not. Some moved mountains, and others moved hearts and minds. The common thread is that these individuals changed the world around them through novel thinking, hard work, and sometimes, a little good fortune. I appreciated the side bars between individual stories that helped to provide a contextual bridge to the next person. African Icons is accessible for middle school readers and above, and I found it both interesting and educational. Recommended for all readers who are curious about the history of mankind's original continent, and the people, many who could be considered role models, that helped shape civilization's earliest advances, wisdom, culture, and knowledge. Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for the gifted ARC!

  15. 4 out of 5

    WS_BOOKCLUB

    Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion, and for allowing me to join the blog tour. African Icons is available now. I am a homeschool mom so I am constantly looking for good educational books to add to our curriculum. This has made the cut! African Icons is a useful, well-written look at a part of history that is often unseen. Sometimes it seems that history only mentions figures like Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington Carver, a Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion, and for allowing me to join the blog tour. African Icons is available now. I am a homeschool mom so I am constantly looking for good educational books to add to our curriculum. This has made the cut! African Icons is a useful, well-written look at a part of history that is often unseen. Sometimes it seems that history only mentions figures like Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington Carver, and Harriett Tubman. That leaves out so many interesting people, and so many fascinating moments in history. This book endeavors to fill in some of the gaps left in knowledge. My youngest child is a history lover. Because of that, I was able to test whether this will hold a child’s interest. He was definitely interested, although this book is probably best for older elementary kids. The facts were delivered in a way that didn’t shy away from some of the darker parts of history, while also not glorifying violence. It is quite obvious that author Tracey Baptiste put both time and effort into crafting a book that was both informative and accessible. The pages were full of backgrounds, details, and even pronunciation guides, which I very much appreciated. I really loved the collection of people chosen for this book. There were both males and females and it was fantastic seeing women get their due in a history book. It really doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should. The illustrations were brightly colored and attention-catching, although I do wish there were more of them. This will probably be a bit too wordy for most younger children (although my pint-sized history buff loved it), but I highly recommend African Icons for older elementary and middle grade children. It would also make an excellent resource for educators or parents who want to provide a more complete look at African history.

  16. 5 out of 5

    April

    Not bad for an introduction to influential people from history originating in Africa written for young people. It was accessible and could serve as a basic intro to any of the named figures. It falls into the very trap, though, that it challenges: that African history is considered with a Western lens and, thus, devalued. Unfortunately, all of the key figures are "important" only in ways that put them in contact with dominant Western cultures. It starts, most promisingly, with Egypt's early lead Not bad for an introduction to influential people from history originating in Africa written for young people. It was accessible and could serve as a basic intro to any of the named figures. It falls into the very trap, though, that it challenges: that African history is considered with a Western lens and, thus, devalued. Unfortunately, all of the key figures are "important" only in ways that put them in contact with dominant Western cultures. It starts, most promisingly, with Egypt's early leaders. I worried that it would only focus on Mediterranean countries at this point... and that many white cultures seem to claim Egypt, and it often seems removed from the main body of Africa historically and culturally. The remaining people were highlighted in their importance ONLY in relation to how they interacted with Greeks or Romans or Muslims. For instance, I found it hard to swallow Hannibal (of Carthage) as an "African Icon" since the Phoenicians are only African by transplant... It seems far more Mediterranean than African. I guess the problem with looking at African "history" is similar to early cultures elsewhere: written history is the gold-standard, and if we don't have writing or fancy artifacts that we can translate and understand, it seems unimportant. I wanted there to be importance in the idea that they "built a continent" in a way that wasn't reliant on that Western lens.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Coleen

    I won this PAPERBACK Advance Readers copy in a Goodreads Giveaway. Although the book was purportedly for Young Readers, it is truly a well-written and intellectually stimulating book. As noted in the subtitle, the book focuses on ten people who gave Africa some noteworthy achievements. At least two of them, I was very familiar with from my elementary school education from more than 60 years ago, as might many other students throughout those years. The author does not avoid some tough topics, such I won this PAPERBACK Advance Readers copy in a Goodreads Giveaway. Although the book was purportedly for Young Readers, it is truly a well-written and intellectually stimulating book. As noted in the subtitle, the book focuses on ten people who gave Africa some noteworthy achievements. At least two of them, I was very familiar with from my elementary school education from more than 60 years ago, as might many other students throughout those years. The author does not avoid some tough topics, such as the fact that slavery was alive and well for thousands of years in Africa, long before what is now known as Europe even existed- [and Gauls, Vikings, Anglos, Saxons and Jutes, etc. were all fighting each other]. Some of the Icon profiles venture into the battles that the rulers in Africa had with those outside Africa, as well as their battles within. But realistically, there are many more 'icons' to be discussed and profiled and this author's work should have whet the reader's appetite for more. Luckily the author has provided Source Notes, and a Bibliography which will spur any reader on to learn more about African History, and to await, as I do, archeology findings that can disclose much more.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Libby

    When I was in school in the 1960s and 70s, I don't remember learning anything about African history beyond Egypt. Fast forward t0 2021. There is still little non-fiction that sheds light on the diverse and fascinating history of the African continent. So, I was thrilled to learn about this book. And after reading the pre-publication eARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley, I'm even more excited. Baptiste shares a broad history of the continent through the 16th century, framed by the liv When I was in school in the 1960s and 70s, I don't remember learning anything about African history beyond Egypt. Fast forward t0 2021. There is still little non-fiction that sheds light on the diverse and fascinating history of the African continent. So, I was thrilled to learn about this book. And after reading the pre-publication eARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley, I'm even more excited. Baptiste shares a broad history of the continent through the 16th century, framed by the lives of ten important people. Some of these are already fairly well-known, such as Aesop and Hannibal. But many of the most fascinating, such as Tin Hinan, the Berber woman who founded a thriving trading city in the Sahara, will be new to readers. My one concern is that the book is text-heavy, although there are beautiful illustrations scattered throughout, which means librarians and teachers will need to draw the attention of their middle grade students to the book. Reading a few well-chosen excerpts will hook kids. With extensive source notes and a well-chosen bibliography, it will also serve young researchers well. Definitely recommended.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ritu | Bohemian Bibliophile

    African Icons primarily focuses on Egyptian history. Written in chronological order from ancient times to the sixteen century, it celebrates kings, queens, inventors, scholars, and visionaries who shaped the continent and beyond. From Menes, the first Pharaoh, to Queen Idia, a sixteenth-century power broker. The book's journey began in February 2017, when author Tracey Baptiste wrote a blog post, Africans before slavery, in response to the then American President Donald Trump's ignorant comments African Icons primarily focuses on Egyptian history. Written in chronological order from ancient times to the sixteen century, it celebrates kings, queens, inventors, scholars, and visionaries who shaped the continent and beyond. From Menes, the first Pharaoh, to Queen Idia, a sixteenth-century power broker. The book's journey began in February 2017, when author Tracey Baptiste wrote a blog post, Africans before slavery, in response to the then American President Donald Trump's ignorant comments on Black History Month. The author did face difficulty in researching for the book due to the bias and racism in the written records. In some cases, complete history has been wiped out and replaced with the colonizer's version. The book is beautifully illustrated. Along with the ten heroic figures, the designer also framed each chapter with a graphic pattern borrowed from ancient African tradition that adds to the charm of the book. Read the complete review at https://bohemianbibliophile.com/afric...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Susan Ballard

    𝐀𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐈𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬 looks at ten Africans that shaped and influenced not only the African continent but the world. Names such as Menes, Merneith, Aesop, Amanirenas, and Mansa Musa. They were kings, queens, military leaders, poets, and scholars. But no matter their position in life, they have a story that needs to be heard. Along with stunning illustrations, you will learn details about these men's and women’s lives. I appreciated that Tracey Baptiste included facts about the African continent, from it 𝐀𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐈𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬 looks at ten Africans that shaped and influenced not only the African continent but the world. Names such as Menes, Merneith, Aesop, Amanirenas, and Mansa Musa. They were kings, queens, military leaders, poets, and scholars. But no matter their position in life, they have a story that needs to be heard. Along with stunning illustrations, you will learn details about these men's and women’s lives. I appreciated that Tracey Baptiste included facts about the African continent, from its rich cultural heritage, expansive natural landscape to its vast resources. 𝐀𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐈𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬 is a book all schools and children should have in their libraries. This could easily be book one of a series, sharing with us the lives of so many that have influenced and shaped our world. Thank you to @algonquinyr and @tracsybaptistewrites for an invitation to the tour and a gifted copy.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cassie | The_BookSandwich

    Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion, and for allowing me to join the blog tour. I LOVE this book - filled with wonderful detail about 10 historical figures who have been ignored by the whitewashed history books we learn from today in the USA. I really hope that Baptiste makes more of these, since there are more African leaders of historical influence. It’s such a well-written book that fills in lots of knowledge gaps, covers diffe Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion, and for allowing me to join the blog tour. I LOVE this book - filled with wonderful detail about 10 historical figures who have been ignored by the whitewashed history books we learn from today in the USA. I really hope that Baptiste makes more of these, since there are more African leaders of historical influence. It’s such a well-written book that fills in lots of knowledge gaps, covers different regions of Africa, and includes men and women! There are a few gorgeous illustrations as well. I’d say it’s geared more for an older elementary audience and up.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Desiree

    African Icons fills a huge need in children's literature and is just plain a good read. There are very few children's books on pre-colonial Africa/Africans. I only wish there was something similar for even younger readers. The density of the text makes this accessible to only my oldest elementary students. I believe it would also appeal to middle school students. And as a librarian, I have to mention the extensive source notes and bibliography in the back of the book. Thank you to the publisher an African Icons fills a huge need in children's literature and is just plain a good read. There are very few children's books on pre-colonial Africa/Africans. I only wish there was something similar for even younger readers. The density of the text makes this accessible to only my oldest elementary students. I believe it would also appeal to middle school students. And as a librarian, I have to mention the extensive source notes and bibliography in the back of the book. Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    This is definitely a black history book. I don’t know what to say about this book. While I agree that civilization started in Africa and so many innovation happened there. I don’t agree with the author’s slant on things. If you believe the author, we would still be living in the dark ages if it weren’t for Africans. While many of the facts in this book were already know to me, I still found it an interesting book to read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Hope

    This book is a masterpiece. I was fascinated from beginning to end. Although only ten people are included, learning about them and their lasting legacies was so much fun. I was fully invested in each one and loved the accompanying side stories to give context on what was happening throughout the region before moving into the next person. A must read for kids and adults.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Casey Jo

    Gorgeous! And so much packed so well into such a small space! And great appreciation for the way she ends with "culture lost". Baptiste is a wonder. (view spoiler)[ My favorite fact may be on p. 89, that Taureg men in TIn Hanan's time wore veils. (hide spoiler)] Gorgeous! And so much packed so well into such a small space! And great appreciation for the way she ends with "culture lost". Baptiste is a wonder. (view spoiler)[ My favorite fact may be on p. 89, that Taureg men in TIn Hanan's time wore veils. (hide spoiler)]

  26. 5 out of 5

    BiblioBrandie

    Should be required reading. These short entries about ten important and influential people who helped build Africa included some amazing artwork and 2 really important maps. I'm definitely recommending it to our 7th grade teachers who teach ancient civilizations. Should be required reading. These short entries about ten important and influential people who helped build Africa included some amazing artwork and 2 really important maps. I'm definitely recommending it to our 7th grade teachers who teach ancient civilizations.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Erika Hardison

    Beautiful, detailed images. A fulfilling and robust historically accurate timeline of great African nations.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Nelson

    I’m lieu of star ratings, I’ll leave you this: Brilliant children’s book on names you probably haven’t heard. It was quick, but now all I want to do is learn more about each of these figures!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nicole (Bookiesandtea)

    A great children's book to get an introduction to these amazing 10 people who shaped our history! A great children's book to get an introduction to these amazing 10 people who shaped our history!

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