Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: an African tale by John Steptoe
Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters is the story of two girls: one who values kindness and the other who values power. Their king calls all "worthy and beautiful" girls to be considered in his quest for a queen. On their journey to the king, Manyara time and again proves to be self-serving while Nyasha, faced with the same situations, is kind and generous. In essence, this is a simple story about the value of generosity and true beauty. What makes this a great choice for older kids is detail. The writing is elegant and atmospheric (consider this line: "Just as they entered through the great doors, the air was rent by piercing cries."). The illustrations are fantastically detailed, creating texture and nuance. It's a slightly more sophisticated fairy tale, a change of pace from the watered down tales to which kids have become accustomed.