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Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  18,899 ratings  ·  854 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 December 31st 2018 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.

Community Reviews

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4.33  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,899 ratings  ·  854 reviews

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May 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes folklore
John Steptoe's absolutely brilliant Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters is basically an African take on the globally-known and ever popular Cinderella folklore theme (both narrative and illustrations are outstanding in every way and their lovely and evocative marriage, their delightful combination, turn Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters into truly a shining and glistening gem of a picture book, and not only for children, but actually for anyone interested in and appreciative of global folk and fairy tales). ...more
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved it!
Lisa Vegan
Jul 09, 2010 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
“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
Zequoia Hyche
Jun 30, 2014 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
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.

Antoinette Scully
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I remember having thins book as a child and bought it for my own daughters a few years ago. I've read it many times, and love that something I cherished could be passed on to them, teaching a great lesson in being kind to others, including your own sister.
Oct 16, 2012 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
Mar 24, 2009 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.

This book was also selected as one of the books for the August 2016- Caldecott Honor discussion at the Picture-Book Club in the Child
Lisa  Skripps
Oct 15, 2009 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 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
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 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
Feb 26, 2012 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
Dec 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Inspired by an African folktale, this story relays the virtue of kindness to its readers. Two sisters who have little in common outside of their shared beauty live with their father in a small village. One sister is bad tempered while the other is kind, a fact they both hide from their adoring father. An invitation from the king to bring forth "The Most Worthy and Beautiful Daughters in the Land" brings these differences to light. The story takes place against a beautiful Zimbabwean backdrop ali ...more
Avid Booker
May 02, 2016 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.
I like retellings of folk tales and this one was good. An African cinderella story with the moral that niceness is rewarded in the end. I liked the way the story included kindness to animals and those in a weaker position than yourself. I didn't like the way that when Nyasha's sister was unkind to her she knew she mustn't bother her father about this. I think it's really important for children to always feel comfortable telling their parents if something has happened to them they don't like. The ...more
Oct 05, 2011 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
Adam Glasser
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: elm-572
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Name: Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters
Genre: Fairy Tale/Folk Lore
Version: African culture

Cinderella: Nyasha
Magical element/"fairy godmother": A magical snake
Glass Slipper: -
The ball: A celebration to choose a bride for the king
Message: The importance of kindness towards everyone, regardless of their appearance.


Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Steptoe died tragically at age 38 of AIDS. This is his most acclaimed book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Everything from the lush paintings to the exquisite prose. All children ( and teens and adults) should experience the lessons contained in the text. Teachers take note, this book is a wonderful choice for a lesson on character education. Caldecott award winner.
Phil Jensen
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Gorgeous illustrations and a quality folk tale.
Taneika Miliam
Feb 02, 2017 marked it as to-read
Shelves: educ-378-spring
I enjoyed reading this book. It’s based on an African culture. After reading this book, I decided to choose a text –to text concept because It reminded me of the book Cinderella. I would incorporate this story in my classroom by using a vienn diagraph to compare and contrast two different versions of this story. I would also ask open ended question to have the children think to get appropriate responses.
Apr 03, 2016 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
Tahmina Alam
Sep 15, 2012 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
Vanessa Bianchi
Nov 17, 2015 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
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
Ariel Tyler
Oct 15, 2014 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
Rachael LaRochelle
Jan 25, 2013 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
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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