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Never Forgotten

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  442 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
A 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

"Forceful and iconic," raved Publishers Weekly in a starred review. This gorgeous picture book by Newbery Honor winner Patricia C. McKissack and two-time Caldecott Medal-winning husband-and-wife team Leo and Diane Dillon is sure to become a treasured keepsake for African American families. Set in West Africa, this a lyrical story-
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by Schwartz & Wade
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Aug 25, 2011 Betsy rated it really liked it
The more I read children’s literature the more I come to realize that my favorite books for kids are the ones that can take disparate facts, elements, and stories and then weave them together into a perfect whole. That someone like Brian Selznick can link automatons and the films of Georges Melies in The Invention of Hugo Cabret or Kate Milford can spin a story from the history of bicycles and the Jake Leg Scandal in The Boneshaker thrills me. Usually such authors reserve their talents for chapt ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I'm going to call this a novel (more like a story) in verse, because it's catalogued as fiction and it's told in poems. Patricia McKissack has written another winner with this account of a Mende blacksmith's beloved son, who is captured and sold into slavery in Carolina. McKissack states in her author's note at the end that she wanted to tell the story of the people left behind in Africa, and how they remembered their loved ones who were stolen away. The lyrical words and the Dillons' beautiful ...more
Margo Tanenbaum
Nov 06, 2011 Margo Tanenbaum rated it it was amazing
I was immediately drawn to the stunning cover of this new work by Patricia C. McKissack, who has written or co-authored over 100 books about the African-American experience and has received countless awards for her work. In her newest work, she marries African folktales with historical fiction, telling in free verse the story of an 18th century West African boy raised by his blacksmith father and the Mother Elements--Wind, Fire, Water, and Earth. The boy, named Mufasa, disappears one day, like s ...more
May 10, 2012 Carolynne rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Malinda, Abigail, Gundula, Kathryn, Holly
Recommended to Carolynne by: Elizabeth Bird
McKissack emulates the chant of the griots before and after slavers kidnapped a young boy from a Mali village. She focuses on his father, a blacksmith, who according to tradition commands the four elements of earth, wind, water, and fire, and here uses them to try to find his beloved son. It is the wind who finds the boy who was lost, and tells his people what has become of him. Rather too optimistic an ending, but if I were the wind, I'd have done the same. Moving, poetic, sometimes dense text. ...more
Oct 24, 2015 Josiah rated it liked it
An inspiring meld of African folk literature and modern storytelling technique, Never Forgotten is stunning in equal measure for its emotionally involving plot and the evocative artwork that accompanies it; of course, this is what one tends to expect from author Patricia C. McKissack and illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon. So much of why this story hits home like it does is the flawless way in which text and artwork fit together to give a sweeping, unobscured vision of African culture and the jo ...more
Meagan Myhren-bennett
Oct 02, 2011 Meagan Myhren-bennett rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Libraries, Home Schoolers, All Age Groups
Shelves: history, slavery, family
By Patricia C. McKissack
Artwork by Leo and Diane Dillon

This is the most difficult book review, to date, that I have ever written. Nothing I write can do justice to this superb work of art. Never Forgotten is indeed a work of art. It is moving and touches the soul.

Never Forgotten is a story of love, a story of memory, and a story of family. The lyrical meter and the artwork add to the feel, the moment of the story.

Never Forgotten is a story of slavery, but it is told from the pers
Debra Wake
Jun 28, 2012 Debra Wake rated it really liked it
Audience - Grade level K and up, students studying slavery and black history,

Subject - multi-cultural, black history, African storytelling and music

Appeal - This is the story of what happened when the slaves were taken in Africa. It is the story of Dinga and his son Musafa. Musafa was brought up by Dinga with the help of Earth, Fire, Wind and Water and was taken and sold into slavery. His father never stopped missing him and loving him. Mufasa grew to be a strong, wise man bcause he never forgo
Ashley Gregory
Jun 16, 2012 Ashley Gregory rated it really liked it
Audience: 3rd-6th grade boys and girls, history classes, art classes.

Appeal: This story was different from the moment I opened the cover. Not just one story, but many stories being told that allow the reader to feel, see, and sense what it was like to be an African slave. The author did a fantastic job of bringing together stories of the people From the blacksmith to the naming of a child, it all was represented beautifully. The artwork in itself captured a different aspect of the story as well
RLL 520 Sharonda Kimbrough
This was an amazing story. The author uses what some would consider poetry to tell the story of a person taken captive and sold into slavery. Although the words don't rhyme, the way in which the story is presented makes each page look like a short poem. The illustrations are colorful and vibrant and clearly illustrate the words written on the pages. This book would be a great way to introduce the topic of slavery either during black history month or in a regular history class. The images are sur ...more
Edward Sullivan
A stunning, profoundly moving collaboration between a superb writer and two amazingly gifted artists.
Danielle Halikias
Dec 06, 2016 Danielle Halikias rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
1. A series of poems talking about the hardships of African Americans and their families. From separation to slavery to freedom, the moving poems will impact every reader. It all starts with a narration of a boy who was taken and sold into slavery.

2. This book has not only beautiful imagery, but also informative in a meaningful way. It explains the culture of Africans and their hardships throughout history. This also is a story that shows the connection between a father and his son, how no matt
Apr 24, 2015 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: multicultural
1. Text to Text: Never Forgotten explains how Dinga, a blacksmith, lost his wife during child birth and raises his son, Musafa, with the help of the Mother Elements: Fire, Water, Earth, Wind. When Musafa is a preteen boy he is captured by slave traders and taken to America. All Mother elements try to save Musafa and return him safely home, but none of them succeed as planned. Anyway, the story reminded me of a Wishbone episode I saw when I was little based on The People Could Fly which was about ...more
Mar 27, 2013 Kelly rated it it was amazing
Never Forgotten, written by Patricia C. McKissack and illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, is a nominee for the 2013-14 South Carolina Children's Book Award.

Never Forgotten is a beautiful, poetic book that, in my opinion, fills a void when it comes to studies of slavery. This book of poetry takes a look at the relationship between a man, his son, the elements that were a huge part of their lives as blacksmiths in Africa, and how their lives were impacted by the slave trade.

When the young boy, M
Aug 15, 2012 Brenda rated it really liked it
A beautiful series of poems that tells the tale of a young African boy who is taken from his home as a slave. Musafa's mother dies in childbirth and he is raised by his father Dinga. Dinga calls on the earth, fire, water and wind to help raise his child. Musafa learns the blacksmith trade from his father, although he has a much more creative approach. From the earth, fire, water and wind, Musafa learns about the world and life. When Musafa does not return home one day, his father discovers he ha ...more
Dec 03, 2015 Jairus rated it really liked it
Shelves: infm-208
Dinga is a Mende blacksmith who was praised by all the villagers as a master craftsman and artisan. He was known best however, for being a loving father. After his wife dies giving birth to their son, he asks the Mother Elements to help him in his son’s upbringing. They name him Musafa and Dinga does well at raising him. Musafa becomes Dinga’s blacksmith apprentice and one day goes missing. The Mother Elements do some investigating as to what happened to Musafa and they learn that he was capture ...more
Brenna Kerley
Nov 17, 2015 Brenna Kerley rated it it was amazing
This notable book for global society is rich with African American culture. This picture book tells the story of A father and his son. The father's wife dies during child birth so he is left to take care of his son. The people of the village look down upon him saying that he is a man and therefore, does not have the motherly touch and love to offer the child. The man takes his son to go live with him outside of the village. Everyday, the father prays to the earth, wind, water and fire to make hi ...more
Alyse Erickson
Dec 08, 2015 Alyse Erickson rated it really liked it
Shelves: classroom-books
A story of slavery, but it is told from the perspective of those left behind. This is Dinga’s story, and even more than that a story of every family that ever had someone stolen from them for the purpose of slavery. Dinga is raising his son, Mufasa, alone after the death of his wife. But Dinga is raising his son with the help of the four Mother Elements - Earth, Fire, Water, and Wind. As the years passed there have been signs of warning - signs that spoke of an outside threat. But the threat was ...more
Not only is the story of Dinga, a Mende blacksmith in West Africa, and his lost son Musafa not to be forgotten, but the lush, incredibly detailed acrylic and watercolor illustrations of this book are just as memorable. Told as a novel in verse that has the rythmn of a folktale, passed down from generation to generation, the story focuses on the love Dinga has for his son. When Musafa's mother dies in childbirth, Dinga entreats Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water to help him raise his son. All goes well ...more
Nov 29, 2012 Alex rated it really liked it
Never Forgotten is just that, never forgotten. I will always remember the story and images this book portrays from its beautiful illustrations and poetic words written in verse. It tells a story in West Africa about a blacksmith named Dinga, who loses his son Musafa who is kidnapped to the evils of slavery. It shows Musafa’s life growing up and how he was shaped by Mother Elements of Wind, Earth, Fire, and Water whom his father speaks to. When Musafa disappears everything turns bad and all of th ...more
Jenna Foiles
Audience: Primary

Genre: Historical/Fantasy Picture Book

Award: Coretta Scott King Honor

Text to World: This book can be connected to the world not only in its historical connection but also in its cultural connection. From a historical point of view the general underlying story is something that actually did happen at one point in time. People in Africa were taken away from their homes to be slaves in another country. There they were forced to do things. This happens to Musafa, as he is taken to
Amber P
Mar 08, 2015 Amber P rated it it was amazing
Using free verse Patricica McKissack tells the story of a blacksmith who raises his child, against custom, by himself with the help of the Mother Elements after the child's mother dies in childbirth. This child will be the 8th generation blacksmith of his tribe. Than fate intervenes and the child is stolen by slave traders and shipped to the Carolinas. All through his difficult journey the boy uses the strength he learned at the hands of the Mother Elements to survive and encourages others to do ...more
Claudia Hall
Dec 09, 2014 Claudia Hall rated it really liked it
In my opinion the biggest strength in this book is it’s subtle facts about slavery. This story is appropriate for children to read, meaning it won’t scare young readers, but it will inform them of how white men got slaves and what happened to slave once they were already taken from their countries. Another, strength that could also be a weakness depending on how you look at it, is the use of personification for the characters earth, fire, wind and water. The personification captures a child’s mi ...more
Mary Mayfield
Jul 12, 2013 Mary Mayfield rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
Audience: Although this is a picture book, I think it could be used with both primary and intermediate students. It would be good for scratching the surface of slavery with primary children and could also be used with intermediate children to delve deeper into the study of slavery. The author's note at the end would be particularly useful with older students.
Genre: traditional literature/historical fiction
Mental image quote: "It's belly bulged with children snatched from Mother Africa's arms." (
May 14, 2012 Heather rated it liked it
The tale of Musafa, a gifted slave blacksmith apprentice, is told from his birth to his time as a slave. Elements of African and Caribbean folktales are woven in. The story is told in verse from the perspective of Musafa's father with the help of Earth, Fire, Water, and Wind.

A wonderful tale to introduce a history unit on slavery. Students will connect emotionally with the father. The wonderful illustrations by Leo Leo Dillonand Diane Dillon Diane Dillonwill also be a welcome, familiar connectio
Feb 10, 2012 June rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 03, 2013 Taylor rated it it was amazing
Audience: Although this book can be utilized with intermediate grades, I think it is best suited for a 3rd grade audience.

Appeal: Though some of the vocabulary used is slightly advanced, the structure makes the story seem easier to read. The story is also organized in a way that leaves the reader eager to see what happens next.

Application: I would use this book with a post-reading writing activity. I would pose the question to my students, “If you were taken from your family, what would your “go
Rosa Cline
This is a beautifully written in poem form about what it would have been like to been an African and have your child stolen from you never to know where they are or what happened to them. This story starts with the birth of a baby boy, and his mother dying. His Dad wants to celebrate his birth and honor her with keeping him and raising him as he should instead of giving him to a tribe woman to raise as hers. The dad raises him with the help of his Faith in his God. Teaches his son his Blacksmith ...more
Tillie Torpey
McKissack, P. (2011). Never Forgotten. Schwartz & Wade.

Theme/Topic: The story between a father and son when the sun is kidnapped in being a slave in the Americas

Critique (comments, observations, questions):
I enjoyed learning about a cultural perspective from a tribe in Africa, but as well the positive mindset the father kept when he found out what happened to his son. Another characteristic I enjoyed was the incorporation of the four elements within the book, which shows a commonality betwe
Feb 11, 2012 Joan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teachers to use during Black history month!
I'll admit that I didn't think McKissack had such a book in her. I was dubious when I realized the book had gotten the King award for authors, not for illustrators, but it turned out to be absolutely accurate. As amazing as the Dillons are, the text is much better! I read this quickly at work and didn't take time to reread it so I probably missed some particularly beautiful sentences. The one thing I DID do was ask Catalog to change this to J Fiction from E (picture books). There is too much tex ...more
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CSK Discussion 1 4 Dec 15, 2011 04:34PM  
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  • Roots and Blues: A Celebration
  • The Great Migration: Journey to the North
  • These Hands
  • I, Too, Am America
  • Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans
  • The President's Stuck in the Bathtub: Poems About the Presidents
  • Back of the Bus
  • Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck
  • Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems
  • A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis
  • Storm Called Katrina
  • Won-Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku
  • Ellen's Broom
  • Bird in a Box
  • The People Could Fly: The Picture Book
  • I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery
  • Belle, The Last Mule at Gee's Bend: A Civil Rights Story
Patricia C. McKissack is the Newbery Honor, Coretta Scott King Award-winning author of The Dark-Thirty and Porch Lies an ALA Notable Book. She has collaborated with Jerry Pinkney on Goin' Someplace Special (Coretta Scott King Award winner) and Mirandy and Brother Wind (Coretta Scott King Award winner and Caldecott Honor Book).
More about Patricia C. McKissack...

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