Written by: James Berry
Illustrated by: Anna Cunha
For ages: 3-8 years old
Topics Covered: Imagination, Poetry, Memories, POC-Centric Narratives, Black Culture & Identity.
A Story About Afiya tells of a joyful girl named Afiya and her magic dress, which picks up imprints of her daily experiences but clears itself overnight. As Afiya spins through fields of flowers, she comes away bringing bright sunflower faces with her. After a day at the zoo, tigers accompany her home. But every night after Afiya washes the dress, it’s pure and white again the next morning, ready for more adventures.
This is a lyrical story written by late poet James Berry, and artist Anna Cunha lends her spectacular artwork to bring Afiya to life on these pages. I like that readers can interpret Afiya’s dress as magical and actually recording these images onto the fabric momentarily, or as a larger metaphor for Afiya’s memories and experiences. This sweet story would also be a great book to have an art activity with as well, having readers decorate their own magical outfits that would hold onto beautiful memories as well.
About the Author & the Illustrator:
James Berry was born in Jamaica in 1924. He grew up in Jamaica and at the age of seventeen went to work in America and eventually settled in England, where he would spend the rest of his life.
Berry published his first book, Fractured Circles (Beacon Press), in 1979, and rose to prominence two years later when he won the National Poetry Competition. He was the first West Indian poet to win the prestigious prize.
Berry is the author of several books of poetry and children’s literature, including A Story I Am In: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2011), Windrush Songs (Bloodaxe Books, 2007), and Only One of Me: Selected Poems (Macmillan, 2004). His honors included the Smarties Prize, the Signal Poetry Award, and the Cholmondeley Award. In 1990 he was awarded an OBE for his services to poetry. He died on June 20, 2017.
Anna Cunha is a Brazilian illustrator, living and working in Belo Horizonte. She is graduated in Fine Arts from Universidade do Estado de Minas Gerais, Brazil and post-graduated in Illustration from EINA – Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.
She has illustrated more than 20 books for Brazilian and foreign publishers, and has won the AEILIJ Prize for her work. She’s also been nominated several times for the Jabuti Prize – the Brazilian most prestigious literature prize, been awarded with a special mention at the João-de-Barro Prize and was one of the Brazilian entrants for the Biennial of Illustration Bratislava.