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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Imagine living hundreds of years ago in the ancient African country of Mali. Imagine the clothes you’d wear, the house you’d live in, the family you’d have, the food you’d eat. Imagine being grown up at the age of twelve, and, if you were a girl, you’d be ready for marriage. Imagine seeing the king and listening to your grandfather recite some great stories about the Malian kings, their great military adventures, things that made the country great and prosperous.
Carole P. Roman presents a story in second person narrative, asking you to imagine that you are her, living in a time long ago and a place far away. If You Were Me and Lived In…. the Ancient Mali Empire is a very educational story that places the young reader in the footsteps of a young child, a girl child, hundreds of years ago. Accompanied by pastel colored illustrations which give the presentation a sense of character, the story progresses well with detailed descriptions of the life, the people and the culture of Mali somewhere around the time of the fourteenth century. The story and the illustrations present a town in Mali as it would appear today and as it would have appeared seven hundred years ago. The young reader learns a lot about Mali through this association with the main character, this little girl, who could be you. This is a well thought out presentation of geography and history, portrayed in a storytelling fashion that will appeal to young readers as well as educate them. Very well done.