McKissack, Patricia C. 2011. NEVER FORGOTTEN. Ill. by Leo & Diane Dillon. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375843846 [Suggested Grade Levels K-8]
Through the characters of Dinga, Musafa and the Mother Elements: Earth, Fire, Water, and Wind, McKissack’s series of free verse poems tell the story of one “Taken” but never forgotten. Dinga, a blacksmith and beloved father, mourns the capture of his son until he learns the fate of his much-loved boy through the stories of the Mother Elements. Upon his capture by slave traders, Musafa, a playful but wise son, lives the message passed from the Elements: he brings courage to his fellow captives, harnesses bravery in the face of the unknown, dances in rhythm to the drumbeat of life, and lives freely despite his enslaved reality.
Leo and Diane Dillon’s paintings accompany the text on borders and full pages and convey the gamut of emotions addressed in the verse. Together word and image express both the sense of loss felt by those family members of the Taken and the message of hope in the courage of the living.
Despite news of his son’s enslavement, Dinga rejoices to hear the story of Mufasa. Discuss Dinga’s reaction and encourage children to consider how other parents might have responded upon learning the fates of their taken and enslaved children.
Other picture books about enslavement of Africans:
Feelings, Tom. THE MIDDLE PASSAGE: WHITE SHIPS/BLACK CARGO. ISBN 9780803718043
Lester, Julius. FROM SLAVE SHIP TO FREEDOM ROAD. ISBN 9780140566697
Thomas, Velma Maia. LEST WE FORGET: THE PASSAGE FROM AFRICA TO SLAVERY AND EMANCIPATION: A THREE DIMENSIONAL INTERACTIVE BOOK WITH PHOTOGRAPHS AND DOCUMENTS FROM THE BLACK HOLOCAUST EXHIBIT. ISBN 0609600303
By Maria Cahill