A Zulu Cinderella

Children - Mythology/Fairy Tale
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 02/16/2024
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Author Biography

Desaray Mnyandu has a passion for world cultures has led her to visit various countries around the world.Her goal is to write books that introduce children to the African continent and help them gain cultural competence at an early age. She is committed to helping children explore the beauty of African cultures and understand the wisdom in African languages in a simple way. She hopes her writing will help children discover common affirmations that exist among all people in order to grow their own confidence as global citizens.
Desaray serves as a recording secretary in the Children’s Book Guild of Washington DC and is a member of SWBI. She’s married to her college sweetheart and they live outside Washington DC, where she homeschools their four children.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Constance Stadler for Readers' Favorite

Sindi: A Zulu Cinderella says much more than most children's books. It opens with what appear to be ancient images of people engaged in symbolic activities. As the tale unfolds, we meet a young girl who lives contentedly with her father. Upon beginning a job that would keep him away from home for long periods, her father invites Sindi’s aunt and two daughters to keep Sindi company. But just like the plight of Cinderella, she is mistreated but dearly hopes to attend the Reed Dance, her country’s grand ball. In thrilled anticipation, Sindi selects a necklace of vibrant colors and deep meaning. Still, at the last moment, she, like Cinderella, is given so many tasks by her wicked aunt that attending the dance is impossible. Distraught, she flees to the home of her beloved Auntie Gogo, who does not employ a magic wand but knows much about another form of magic. An overjoyed Sindi finds exquisite clothes while also learning what sets her apart. As the narrative progresses, Thembani Mnyandu and Desaray Wilson-Mnyandu continue to weave the parallels between the two stories while creating something rare and distinctive.

From the beginning, Zulu words are interwoven throughout the narrative so that the young reader will grasp their meaning because of context. A child will learn that the Zulu word for father is Baba, the importance of ucu, expressions of joy, and even how to tell someone to hurry up. What happens at the Reed Dance is wholly engaging because it is so unique. Beginning with a ritual, Sindi’s reactions, and how the prince searches for his bride are all described as rich scenarios. Such vivid descriptions will likely captivate youngsters by offering words and expressions that celebrate pride and offer a glimpse into something wondrous. When the dance commences with exuberant lyrics -- “We bring virtue and pride to our people" -- culture comes alive joyfully. This celebratory event is one of several excerpts that could be used for an adult and child to explore diversity, due partly to Shayna Renee Olivier’s colorful illustrations. In Sindi: A Zulu Cinderella, Thembani Mnyandu and Desaray Wilson-Mnyandu provide a delightful gateway that will introduce young readers to some of the greatest life lessons.