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Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale

4.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  14,961 Ratings  ·  621 Reviews
A Caldecott Honor and Reading Rainbow book, this memorable retelling of Cinderella is perfect for introducing children to the fairy tale as well as the history, culture, and geography of the African nation of Zimbabwe.

Inspired by a traditional African folktale, this is the story of Mufaro, who is proud of his two beautiful daughters. Nyasha is kind and considerate, but eve
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 31st 1987 by Amistad (first published March 31st 1986)
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Nicole I purchased this book along with other for a great deal at They have an entire online children's bookstore dedicated to black…moreI purchased this book along with other for a great deal at They have an entire online children's bookstore dedicated to black children. Yet, their message is unite all, starting with self. The site saved me tons of money. Wanted to share :).(less)
Amber This is a fairly popular book. Check your local library or Amazon.
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Aug 09, 2016 Manybooks rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes folklore
John Steptoe's brilliant Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters is an African take on the globally-known and ever popular Cinderella theme (both the narrative and the illustrations are outstanding and make this a real gem of a picture book, not only for children, but actually for anyone interested in and appreciative of global folk and fairy tales). While the tale itself (like many if not most Cinderella-type stories) is rather predictable, it is engagingly narrated and the evocative illustrations are sim ...more
“Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters” is a Caldecott Honor Book by John Steptoe and it is about how Mufaro’s two beautiful daughters are invited to the king’s palace so that the king will choose a worthy bride, but Manyara, the greedy sister, tries to go off to the king’s palace by herself and meets some disastrous results. “Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters” is a magnificent tale that children will definitely read for many years!

John Steptoe has done a magnificent job at both illustrating and writing this
Lisa Vegan
Mar 16, 2011 Lisa Vegan rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: Chandra
The illustrations are magnificent, with lovely depictions of the people and animals.

This tale is fairy tale like predictable but very entertaining.

I appreciated how the author-illustrator gave credit to the folktale that was his inspiration and how at the beginning he translates the meanings of a few names. (But, why name each of your daughters that way?! Self-fulfilling prophesy???)

The Children's Books group has chosen this book for one of its picture books for April, for the Picture Books Cl
Monica Edinger
I should say this is a gorgeous, gorgeous book and Steptoe deserved all the awards and acclaim for it as a work of art. What it is NOT is a book to introduce children to either Cinderella or Zimbabwe. He was inspired by a visit to Zimbabwe to do the story and beautiful it is, but it is absolutely not the way to introduce children to the continent of Africa or Zimbabwe, for that matter. And since the story is one made-up by Steptoe I question using it as an intro into Cinderella stories.

Zequoia Hyche
Jul 01, 2014 Zequoia Hyche rated it it was amazing
Shelves: past-treasures
I have not read this book in such a long time. I was probably 10 years old or younger when I first read this book. Reading Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters again brought back the memory of how inspiring and moving it was. I remembered the plot, but what was new to me this time was the illustrations, language and how the story used multiple subjects to disguise the prince. This story touches lightly on the African culture through these things. I liked the story when I was younger, but even more so no ...more
Lisa  Skripps
Oct 15, 2009 Lisa Skripps rated it it was amazing
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, John Steptoe, is an African Cinderella story. Mufaro was a happy man and a very proud father. Mufaro had two very beautiful daughters who lived with him. Nyasha was kind, considerate, and very beautiful. Manyara, Mufuaro’s other daughter was very cruel, mean, and rude. Everyone knew this about Manyara; everyone except for Mufaro. Manyara spent all of her time teasing her sister. On day, the king decided he wanted to get married and invited "The Most Worthy and Beaut ...more
Elizabeth Westlund
Feb 14, 2015 Elizabeth Westlund rated it really liked it
Shelves: traditional-lit
Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters is loosely based on the traditional Cinderella story, and elements of that can be seen throughout the story. It begins with two sisters, Manyara who is selfish and cruel and Nyasha who is clever and kind. Mufaro never saw the difference in personality in his two daughters, but Manyara continually mistreated her sister and others, much like the evil step-sisters in Cinderella. When the King asked to see the sisters, they were put through a series of character tests al ...more
A tale of kindness and selfishness, and their corresponding consequences.

I've loved this book ever since I saw it on "Reading Rainbow" as a child. For whatever reason the book was burned into my memory and I was always delighted whenever it was featured on the show. The story, the illustrations... everything made a huge impression on me.
SO, as an adult I was anxious-excited and anxious-apprehensive to find out if the book would still be as wonderful as I remembered.

I still love it! Yes, upon rea
Mar 24, 2009 Dolly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a fabulous tale, full of magic, wonder, kindness, grace and even greed and jealousy. The illustrations are marvelous and really enhance the story. Our girls enjoyed this story a lot and I had fun reading it to them.

This book was selected as one of the April 2011 Royalty themed reads for the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Book group here at Goodreads.
Oct 17, 2012 Julie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: traditional
This is such a fantastic "Cinderella Story" that teaches the importance of kindness towards everyone, regardless of their appearance, not just because of the potential rewards (snakes are probably not all kings), but because you are no better than them. The illustrations are wonderfully detailed, it is obvious why it received a Caldecott honor; I loved that Steptol reflects African culture in a beautiful way, rather than depicting it as dirty or "third world" as we are so accustomed to seeing. T ...more
This Caldecott Honor picture Book of an African folk tale is illustrated and shared with us by John Steptoe. It is the story of a man, Mufaro, in an African village whose king is seeking a bride and how the man's two daughters, Nyasha and Manyara, persue that dream. It's premise is of pride going before a fall, but for me it was more than anything a story of kindness rewarded for its own sake.
This is one of the most beautifully illustrated books I have read, with lush, deep shades of colors i
Crystal Marcos
Apr 04, 2011 Crystal Marcos rated it really liked it
Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tales was an African tale reminiscent of Cinderella. The illustrations were lovely. I can see how it was a Caldecott Honor Book.

All the woman of the land are invited to the king's palace so he can choose his worthy bride. Both Mufaro's daughters are beautiful, but only one is beautiful both inside and out. Nyasha was so compassionate that she didn't even tell her father the way Manyara treated her because she was too considerate of her father's feelings t
May 02, 2016 AVID BOOKER rated it it was amazing
I read this when I was about 10 at my school and it was a beautiful story about beauty not always being on the outside, but the inside, and that being a good person was better than being beautiful.

I've always kept this story in my heart and I think it's a great reendition of Cinderella for little black girls and even other races.

Give it a try.
Apr 03, 2016 Wilmarie rated it it was amazing
This African tale won the Caldecott Honor Medal in the year 1988. It is a Cinderella type of fairytale but from the African nation. The story is about Mufaro’s two daughters. One of his daughters is Nyasha, who is a kind and selfless young lady. The other daughter is Manyara who is spoiled and selfish. Without Mufaro knowing, Manyara constantly tells her sister that she will one day be queen and Nyasha will be her servant. Nyasha only answered that she would be glad to serve her well but Manyara ...more
Ariel Tyler
Oct 15, 2014 Ariel Tyler rated it it was amazing
This book is a retelling of the fairytale, Cinderella but reframed to take place in an African country. The book follows the traditional fairytale pacing in which the story begins with a sort of "once upon a time" feeling, quickly introduces the problem, follows a rhythm of threes, and tidily provides a resolution. In the story, a king is looking for a new wife. Mufaro has two beautiful daughters, Manyara and Nyasha, who he feels could be the next queen. Unlike most Cinderella stories, the "evil ...more
Vanessa Bianchi
Nov 19, 2015 Vanessa Bianchi rated it it was amazing
The pictures in this book are stunning and is a Caldecott Honor’s picture book. The picture’s help you to understand the story and almost feel like you are there; an African tale from Zimbabwe. Besides the great pictures, the story of Mufaro’s Daughters was inspired by a folk tale and is a great lesson for children. I would put this book at a 5th grade reading level, but is a guided reading level N, as a read aloud I would go as low as second grade. The king who is disguised as a garden snake (a ...more
Emily St.Germain
Nov 29, 2015 Emily St.Germain rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
'Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters' is about two daughters competing to marry the king. As they wait to be chosen, both daughters interact with the same people and a snake at different times. Each daughter has a different kind of interaction. One daughter is selfish and mean, while the other is kind and generous. In the end only one daughter is chosen to become queen.

This story could be used in the classroom with teaching folktales and its elements, culture, and compare and contrasting texts. Mufaro'
I have long loved this beautiful tale. Two beautiful sisters, one kind and gentle, the other proud and selfish, are to appear before the king and he will choose a wife. Both sisters set off separately (as Manyara wants to reach the king first so she leaves secretly at night) on their journey to the city. As they journey, they meet a poor young boy and an elderly woman. Manyara is selfish and unkind but Nyasha shares her food with each of them.

The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. And of cou
Apr 28, 2011 Pamela rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers with children
Shelves: children-reads
"Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale" by John Steptoe was really great...this story is about Mufaro who has two beautiful daughters that he adores and wants them both to be presented to the king while he's looking for a queen. One of his daughters, Nyasha, is not only beautiful, but she is very kind and considerate of other's feelings while his other daughter, Manyara, is beautiful as well but her mean and selfish streak causes her to be very undesirable.
Reading this tale to my daughte
Tahmina Alam
Sep 15, 2012 Tahmina Alam rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Primary School children
Recommended to Tahmina by: Year 5 student
Book review: Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale.

This African tale tells a story of two opposite sisters from a small family, living in one of the many rural areas in Africa. Whilst Mufaro’s daughters were both beautiful in appearance, their inner beauty could not be more different. Locals complemented Nyasha’s kind, graceful and responsible qualities. On the contrary, Manyara was a very temperamental, rude and malicious person, especially to her sister whom she was very jealous of. Ny
Oct 05, 2011 Jessica rated it liked it
Mufaro's Beeautiful Daughters is a very-nicely illsutrated picture book that teaches a very importmant moral. From the beginning of the story, the one sister, Manyara, is very rude and selfish, and ignores others. On the other hand, her sister, Nyasha, is a sweet, compassionate, and caring girl. When their Father, Mufaro, tells the girl they will soon depart on a journey to see which girl the King would choose to marry, Manyara becomes cocky and gives attitude towards Nyasha when she see says, " ...more
Jun 23, 2012 Laura rated it it was amazing
This is a great book that relates to the literacy topic Stories from other cultures and stories that raise an issue / dilemma. It is set in an African village. The King is looking for a Queen and Mufaro believes that the King should meet his two beautiful daughters. The two sisters are polar opposites to each other. Nyasha is kind and caring whereas Manyara is bad-tempered and rude. In order to figure out which sister will be best suited as Queen, the King transforms himself into a garden snake, ...more
Rachael LaRochelle
Jan 25, 2013 Rachael LaRochelle rated it it was amazing
Mufaros Daughters by John Steptoe

This book is an African folklore story about two sisters Mufaro is the younger kinder sister. Her older sister tells her one day that when she is queen she is going to love having her little sister live with her servant. Mufaro does not understand why her sister is so unhappy and mean to her. Nyasha tells her it is because she is favored, or Nyasha thought so anyway, by their father. Mufaro keeps a garden where one day a garden snake comes to visit that sh
Emma Walker
May 02, 2012 Emma Walker rated it really liked it
I read this book before introducing the topic of 'stories from another culture' to a class of year 5 children. This story, based in Zimbabwe, follows two sisters Manyara and Nyasha who both want to be chosen as the King's wife.

The two sisters are very different characters, with Nyasha being presented as loving, caring and kind, whereas her sister Manyara is rather mean, jealous and inconsiderate. The story, like many of its kind, considered the morals that an individual should have, and ultimat
Ciara Alamillo
This book takes place a long time ago in a certain village in Africa. Mufaro is a father of two daughters named, Manyara and Nyasha which in their village are considered very beautiful. Manyara is very mean to her sister Nyasha because they entire village views Nyasha as the most kind hearted person in the village and Manyara does not like this one bit. One day, the king of the land calls out to all the most worthy and beautiful daughters in the land to appear in front of him and for one
Jul 16, 2013 Courtney rated it really liked it
This was one of my favorite books as a young child, distinctly because it was my first cultural book with African characters. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters tells the story of two sisters Nyasha and Manyara. Both sisters are very beautiful, but very different in character. Nyasha is very kind hearted and Manyara is very mean tempered and envious of her sister. When a messenger delivers news that the King is looking for a wife, Manyara is determined to be Queen and devises a plan to be the first on ...more
Stacey Cross
Feb 17, 2015 Stacey Cross rated it liked it
Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters is an intriguing tale from Africa of two sisters, their adoring father , and the different paths they take to reach the city and eventually the king. This story is similar to the classic tale of Cinderella and encompasses some of the same themes, but focuses more on the virtue of both daughters and how kindness, love, and compassion win in the end.
The illustrations are phenomenal and show the true beauty of the land through vibrant colors and distinct details. John
Feb 26, 2012 Anne rated it really liked it
This story teaches a lesson in kindness. Mufaro (meaning “happy man” in Shona) is a king who has two beautiful daughters one named Manyara, meaning “ashamed”, who is a mean spirited princess while the other named Nyasha meaning “mercy”, is kind towards everyone even her mean sister. I was glad to read a folk/ fairytale of a different culture this one being formed from the African culture. The images in the book reflected the events in text but they showed what the text didn’t and couldn’t descri ...more
Shelley larson
Oct 28, 2009 Shelley larson rated it liked it
Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters is an African fairy tale. Mufaro has two daughters: Nyasha and Manyara. Nyasha is nice and beautiful, but Manyara is selfish and mean. Nyasha takes care of a garden and is friends with a snake she names Nyoka. The king decides to have a party to find his wife. Manyara sneaks out of the village in the middle of the night to make sure she reaches the kind first, and on the way she ignores a hungry little boy and an old woman. Nyasha, on the other hand, gives the boy fo ...more
Jan 19, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: jacob, ellie, mom, dad
Great book and beautiful illustrations. Read for CC1 wk13 while studying the Kush in Africa. Led to discussions about who sees us all the time when we don't think anyone is watching and how our character is formed by doing what is right whether someone sees you or not. How we are accountable for our actions to God in heaven...krb 1/19/16
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John Steptoe was an award-winning author and illustrator of children's books from New York City. He began working on his first children's book, Stevie, while still a teenager and achieved great success during his tragically short career, encouraging the advancement of African American culture by producing work about the African American experience that children could appreciate. Recipient of two C ...more
More about John Steptoe...

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