In 1595, Nzingha is the strong, intelligent daughter of the Ngola (leader) of the Mbundu people of Ndongo (in modern-day Angola), loyal to her people and willing to fight for them. Unfortunately, because she is a girl, her brother is the favored child, in training to become the next Ngola, even though he is whiny, stupid, and slow (according to Nzingha). But Ajala, a respected seer, believes that Nzingha is destined to be the leader of Ndongo, and begins preparing her for this future. Nzingha’s father fights to keep the Portuguese from taking over their homeland, yet it is Nzingha, ultimately, who acts as the go-between for her people and the Portuguese, negotiating acceptable relations in order to keep peace and power for the Mbundu.
Based on true historical events, places, people, and customs, this novel portrays the fascinating details of a remarkable young woman’s strength and courage in defending her world against subterfuge, spies, and the onslaught of the Portuguese. Historical notes, photos, illustrations, maps, the Ngola family tree, and a glossary and pronunciation guide are included for a comprehensive understanding of a complex era. Patricia McKissack is the well-respected and award-winning author of over 100 children’s books and historical novels, including the Newbery Honor book The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural and Color Me Dark: The Diary of Nellie Lee Love (from the Dear America series). (Ages 9 to 12) –Emilie Coulter
From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-Nzingha, an Angolan princess in the 16th and 17th centuries, was born in a land in which women were predestined to be subservient to men’s whims. Nzingha, however, broke that rule and, following her father’s footsteps, became a leader after his death. Through fictionalized diary entries, readers learn that Queen Nzingha is knowledgeable, intelligent, and brave. She is opposed to Portuguese slavery and European ways of life, although she secretly learns the outsiders’ language and uses it to her advantage. The diary format will appeal to readers and the author’s use of time lines, seasons, and actual place names makes the story believable and interesting. While the ending is too abrupt, this is still a good addition to the series. The maps, photos, glossary, illustrations, and genealogical trees enhance the presentation.
Daniel Mungai, Queens Borough Public Library, NY
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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As the Portuguese slave traders find their way to the city of Angola in West Africa, young Nzinga, daughter of King Kiluanji, must face up to the dangers around her and find a way to help lead her father’s people through this tragic period. 125,000 first printing.