Never Forgotten

by Patricia C. McKissack, Leo Dillon, and Diane Dillon

Patricia C. McKissack draws on history and folklore to weave a stirring original... read more

Patricia C. McKissack draws on history and folklore to weave a stirring original tale told through poems about a West African (Mende) child whose father, a gifted blacksmith, raises him after his mother dies during childbirth. The boy’s father calls upon the four elements, Mother Earth, Mother Fire, Mother Water, and Mother Wind, for assistance, and young Mustafa grows well and strong. He is just starting to learn his father’s craft when he disappears while on an errand, captured by slavers. Each of his Mothers uses her powers and gifts to track him across the Middle Passage, but none can rescue him and he is sold. After many years, Wind journeys across the ocean and finds him, now a young man, working for a white blacksmith, making beautiful things with his gift. McKissack’s story resonates with love and loss and grief, and ultimately hope, all of which are echoed in Leo and Diane Dillon’s exquisite illustrations. McKissack describes the origins of her idea as well as the history and folklore elements she drew upon as she wrote a story that “addresses the question all of us who are descendants of the Taken ask: 'Were we missed?’ I answer with a resounding 'Yes! We were never forgotten. ’” (Age 10 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2012

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