Cover Image: African Icons

African Icons

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Member Reviews

I am a fan of Baptiste's work, and she wonderfully applied her writing skills to this non-fiction text. The illustrations were just lovely. I am excited to have a book of this quality on this topic to order for the library! I think this is an important book for librarians to order!
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African Icons is a wonderful book full of history about ten historical African icons such as Menes, Aesop, Mansa Musta, and others. This book also includes portraits, and maps with each story.  You can definitely that the information in this book was thoroughly researched. I'm glad I decided to read it because I learned al lot from it.
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This book is a treasure!!

I think every classroom from grades 3 and up needs to have this in their classroom libraries. So many kids are ignorant when it comes to the continent of Africa and its rich cultural heritage and identities. I love how this book takes you on a journey into different parts of the continent and also different times in history, weaving the tales into such a well-written narrative. I also love the colorful illustrations!
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I didn't download the book because I was sent a copy due to my kindle acting up and not letting me read non kindle format books.

I love this book so much and it was a great book to purchase for the elementary school library!
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In a richly designed work with maps, portraits, and graphics throughout, the award-winning author of the Jumbies series shows readers this underrepresented side of Black history and Black excellence.

Every year, American schoolchildren celebrate Black History Month. They study almost exclusively American stories, which are not only rooted in struggle over enslavement or oppression, but also take in only four hundred years of a rich and thrilling history that goes back many millennia across the African continent. Through portraits of ten historical figures—from Menes, the first ruler to be called Pharaoh, to Queen Idia, a sixteenth-century power broker, visionary, and diplomat—African Icons takes readers on a journey across Africa to meet some of the great leaders and thinkers whose ideas built a continent and shaped our world. - Goodreads

It is extremely important to know one's history as schools do not tell whole history or truthful history. And let's be real its subjective. You will have some teachers who will teach certain things because they deem them as important and then other teachers who won't teach things because they deem them unimportant. But I digress. This book is important, informative and should be added to everyone's reference collection. 

I like the fact that this provides new information, even if you have heard of some of these people. There is a lot of details that are easy to understand/digest. The illustrations bring everything together and puts an image to the words and this is extremely helpful especially for young children. 

For teachers, no matter what grade you teach, this is a must-have. For parents, no matter the race but especially for Black parents, this book provides context on history that was either never told or briefly glanced over. It is written with care and with an abundance of information. 


Thank you, Algonquin Young Readers, for sending me a physical copy of this book! 

4 Pickles
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Hey Classical Education homeschoolers, this is a book you need to add to your Ancient History studies. For little kids, you can read aloud and for older kids hand it off and then discuss. This kind of biography set in Ancient Egypt is long overdue.
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I love this cover by Hillary D. Wilson. The strength oozing from the cover makes you want to pick it up and read about who is inside.

“The True Size of Africa” illustration shows the impact of their history on the world. It is amazing to me that a continent that is so large can be smothered by others who are much smaller. Tracy Baptiste tells us the history and some of the stories of early Africa and I find it fascinating. Matched with the illustrations by Wilson and the connection is complete.

Add in the human factor where readers can identify with personal stories and their impact on society and the world and you can’t put this book down. 

Do I have a favorite story? I really liked hearing about the early history. Then when we got to the personal stories, I have to confess that the women fascinated me and I read in awe of their journeys. I have trouble getting out of bed on some days, and what these women did in the timeframes that they lived in is just…no words. 

Every person should read this book. African Icons should be a staple in school reading lists and available to read in all libraries. If you haven’t read this book for yourself, then get it. If you have children, get it. You do not have to be non-white to enjoy the history and learn about the past. The past affects today and these Icons teach us as we strive to move forward.

I received a free copy of this book and I am writing a review without prejudice and voluntarily.
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This is a fascinating non-fiction book spotlighting 10 African people who were instrumental in shaping African history.  Each chapter starts with a picture of an African "Icon", followed by a history of their lives as well as their impact on the world.  It's just the right amount of information (and length) for middle schoolers. 

I thought the author did an excellent job of including female characters which is quite refreshing since many historical literature often exclude important contributions made by women.  I must also give kudos to Hillary Wilson for the stunning artwork!

Many thanks to the Algonquin Young Readers and to Net Galley for a complimentary copy.  Reviews are my own.
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Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion, and for allowing me to join the blog tour.

I LOVE this book - filled with wonderful detail about 10 historical figures who have been ignored by the whitewashed history books we learn from today in the USA. I really hope that Baptiste makes more of these, since there are more African leaders of historical influence. It’s such a well-written book that fills in lots of knowledge gaps, covers different regions of Africa, and includes men and women! There are a few gorgeous illustrations as well. I’d say it’s geared more for an older elementary audience and up.
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A nice book for the younger crowd as an introduction to Ancient Egypt and the actors who helped build the country which, let's make sure everybody knows, was completely different from what it is today. Beautiful illustrations, cool stories, a great purchase for children.

Thank you Net Halley and the publisher for this e-ARC in exchange of my honest review.
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African Icons primarily focuses on Egyptian history. Written in chronological order from ancient times to the sixteen century, it celebrates kings, queens, inventors, scholars, and visionaries who shaped the continent and beyond. From Menes, the first Pharaoh, to Queen Idia, a sixteenth-century power broker.

The book is beautifully illustrated. Along with the ten heroic figures, the designer also framed each chapter with a graphic pattern borrowed from ancient African tradition that adds to the charm of the book.

Apart from the icons, the book discusses the history of the continent including colonization. It was heartbreaking to read how entire civilizations were lost. Particularly in the case of Timbuktu, where libraries were burnt down by invaders. Scholars, doctors, jurists, and teachers were either exiled or taken as slaves. 

As I began reading the book, particularly the first chapter about Menes (the Scorpion King), I couldn't help but notice how pop culture has reduced one of the fathers of Egyptian civilization to a mere caricature. Similar to Imhotep (the antagonist in The Mummy) who was celebrated as an artist, physician, dentist, and god. 

The book is categorized as a middle-grade / young adult. But is a must-read for all ages. The book includes war and bloodbath, but all the while keeping in mind the target audience of young readers. It is a brilliant read. The book is just the tip of the iceberg and I hope more authors explore these lost civilizations and history
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4.5 STARS

I read this book for a blog tour, so thank you so much to the publisher and the author for letting me take part in this tour, and thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. All opinions are my own. 

African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History by Tracey Baptiste is a fascinating historical nonfiction book about ten different people who were important in building Africa, along with other information about the country.

I absolutely loved my time reading this book and I would have liked it to be longer still as I am a total history buff and I loved reading about these people, who for many, I hadn’t heard of before to be totally honest with you. I really appreciate books like this one that go back in time and tell history, not necessarily from the winning side, and I think this book and this author did a fantastic job.

I really like reading nonfiction, and history, so I don’t find any of it “boring” or slow just because it’s what I like, but I’m sure that even for people who are not really fans of these genres, they will really enjoy reading this book. I found that it read very easily and seemed almost like fiction because of how fluid it was. It doesn’t info dump even though it’s very factual, which is kind of ironic, but it really wasn’t heavy, it was just the right balance of great writing and historical facts.

What also added to the beauty of this book were the numerous maps, portraits and paintings that were done by Hilary Wilson. They were all absolutely stunning and it was lovely to, in a way, add a face to the names and stories, as well as seeing what these places would have looked like at these times in history. I think the whole book worked stunningly, and even more so with the mix of beautiful writing, fascinating information and gorgeous illustrations.

I think my favourite chapter was the one about Merneith because I had never once heard of this person before, but I loved finding out more about her. But I equally enjoyed the chapters that didn’t focus solely on people, but more on the lands and practices, it was truly captivating.

I’m a total history nerd so there was no question of me liking it, but I have read some very dry and “boring” nonfiction history books, and this was NOTHING like that at all. I guarantee that if you like history, and especially like learning about people and places that are not talked about, then pick up this book!

I gave this book 4.5 stars, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The reason I am noting it down a tiny bit is because I wanted so much more, it’s has nothing to do with quality or content, I’m just being greedy!! I know this is a book for young readers, but a couple pages more of each chapter would have fully satisfied me, yes, I am that annoying person who always wants to know more details aha! Otherwise, this was a truly amazing book, both the writing itself and the illustrations that just made it even more special and well-executed.

If you love history, you find nonfiction fascinating, you love learning about things and people who are unknown, or maybe not part of “popular history narratives”, and you want to learn more about African, practices, customs, and want to see some beautiful illustrations, then this is the book for you. Pick it up now, you won’t regret it!!
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Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion, and for allowing me to join the blog tour. African Icons is available now.

I am a homeschool mom so I am constantly looking for good educational books to add to our curriculum. This has made the cut! African Icons is a useful, well-written look at a part of history that is often unseen.

Sometimes it seems that history only mentions figures like Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington Carver, and Harriett Tubman. That leaves out so many interesting people, and so many fascinating moments in history. This book endeavors to fill in some of the gaps left in knowledge.

My youngest child is a history lover. Because of that, I was able to test whether this will hold a child’s interest. He was definitely interested, although this book is probably best for older elementary kids. The facts were delivered in a way that didn’t shy away from some of the darker parts of history, while also not glorifying violence. It is quite obvious that author Tracey Baptiste put both time and effort into crafting a book that was both informative and accessible. The pages were full of backgrounds, details, and even pronunciation guides, which I very much appreciated.

I really loved the collection of people chosen for this book. There were both males and females and it was fantastic seeing women get their due in a history book. It really doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should. The illustrations were brightly colored and attention-catching, although I do wish there were more of them.

This will probably be a bit too wordy for most younger children (although my pint-sized history buff loved it), but I highly recommend African Icons for older elementary and middle grade children. It would also make an excellent resource for educators or parents who want to provide a more complete look at African history.
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African Icons fills a huge need in children's literature and is just plain a good read. There are very few children's books on pre-colonial Africa/Africans. I only wish there was something similar for even younger readers. The density of the text makes this accessible to only my oldest elementary students. I believe it would also appeal to middle school students.

And as a librarian, I have to mention the extensive source notes and bibliography in the back of the book.

Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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𝐀𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐈𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬 looks at ten Africans that shaped and influenced not only the African continent but the world. Names such as Menes, Merneith, Aesop, Amanirenas, and Mansa Musa. They were kings, queens, military leaders, poets, and scholars. But no matter their position in life, they have a story that needs to be heard. 

Along with stunning illustrations, you will learn details about these men’s and women’s lives. I appreciated that Tracey Baptiste included facts about the African continent, from its rich cultural heritage, expansive natural landscape to its vast resources. 

𝐀𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐈𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬 is a book all schools and children should have in their libraries. This could easily be book one of a series, sharing with us the lives of so many that have influenced and shaped our world.

Thank you to @algonquinyr and @tracsybaptistewrites for an invitation to the tour and a gifted copy.
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A well researched collection of important figures of African history paired along with beautiful portraits.
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A richly telling collection of tales, introducing to the reader different people that helped shape Africa.
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"the history of Africa is...the longest of anywhere on Earth."
Baptiste is a master storyteller with a solid background as the author of numerous informational books for young readers. All her skills come into play with African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History, the collected biographies of individuals who had a significant impact on African and the world civilization.
​Each featured person is introduced with a brief description of geography and setting, followed by a full-page portrait with a name pronunciation guide. These segments neatly segue the biographical profiles from one time period to a succeeding moment in history.
​Some of the featured individuals: Imhotep, Aesop, and Hannibal Barca are familiar historical figures. Others are less well known.
Information is presented in such vibrant detail that the narrative takes on a multidimensional quality.
 Picture
​Baptiste extensive research reveals fascinating insights into the lives of four influential women: Merneith, Amanirenas, Tin Hinan, and Queen Idia. Readers are introduced to: the mother who served as a regent and facilitated the transfer of power from father to son, the warrior queen who fed prisoners to her pet lion and negotiated the Roman retreat from her country, a queen with a disability who founded a thriving city in the desert, a woman skilled in medical and mystic arts who ensured that her son learn Portuguese to facilitate diplomatic negotiations without a translator.
​Thank you, Tracey. We need more stories about historically significant women.​
Of interest to librarians is the chapter titled “Libraries in the Sands.” Readers will learn that scholarship in sixteenth century Timbuktu was legendary. Library collections consisted of a wealth of information on a vast array of topics as well as literary works. Books were handwritten on paper made from linen or fish skins and richly embellished with designs and illustrations.
Back matter includes: Culture Lost description of innovative, intellectual, and artistic accomplishments originating in Africa that were erased by European colonization, an Author’s Note, extensive Source Notes organized by chapter topics, a lengthy Bibliography, suggestions for Further Exploration, an Index, and a Designer’s Note. The depth and breadth of the author’s research is impressive.
This slim volume is an essential addition to public, school, and classroom libraries, filling an often-neglected historical, geographical, and sociological information gap. My advice: If library funds are limited and it becomes necessary to limit purchases, put this book on the “must buy” list.

Meet the Creators
“here is to Africa achieving the stature that it deserves to have…” Kai Krause

Baptiste is the author the best-selling Jumbies series. Stories are expertly paced, building to a thrilling climax. Complex characters, cinema graphic settings, and intriguing story lines are hallmarks of her work.

Wilson, a professionally trained medical illustrator (Johns Hopkins School of Medicine) brings her considerable skills to this authoritative work. Each portrait conveys the unique demeanor and physical characteristics of its subject.

Kai Krause is German software and graphical user interface designer. He is credited with creating a map of Africa that more accurately depicts the immense size of this content. Read his description of The True Size of Africa.
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Book: African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History
Author: Tracey Baptiste 
Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

I would like to thank the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, for providing me  with ARC. 

This is my fourth book by Tracey Baptiste and I really enjoy her writing style. I feel like her books don’t get the attention and praise they deserve. Since I enjoyed her Jumbies books, I went into this one with high expectations and I was not disappointed. While this is a middle grade book, there is so much detail and information. The pictures are amazing and the overall set up of this book is great. This is also more than looking at ten important Africans. Tracey gives you a look at the culture, history, and economic system of Africa throughout its history-ending with the European colonization. 

I like that it is easy to read, yet gives you what you need. Each person’s section isn’t very long, but it gives you a little bit about them, how they came into power, and the impact they had on the world. It is right amount of information and the right length for middle schoolers. I teach middle school history-if these entries were any longer I know my own students would probably lose interest in them. Not only that, but by giving us a little bit of a shorter entry, it gives students a reason to go out and learn more about these people-perhaps even learn about other Africans who were not featured in this book. 

With all of that being said, we are going to stay with the teacher side of me. One thing that struck me right away was the mix of male and female figures, as well as not solely focusing on kings and queens. One of the reasons that I have developed my own history curriculum is because of diversity in my school’s history books. Women are pretty much left out and they focus largely on Europe. The world doesn’t revolve around Europe and Europe is not where the first humans appeared. It’s Africa, ladies and gentleman. 

The fact that there is a mixture of male and female characters will make this a hit. A lot of times in history, it seems like women are written out. My girls take this hard. The want a historical female role model and to say that women did have an impact. By including so many women, my girls are going to enjoy this book and will probably look more into these women. Plus, a lot of the boys assume that men are the only ones who can have an impact on history and this book will show them. Sorry, I know I’m not supposed to say that, but I’m trying to get them to open there eyes a little bit. 

One thing that I would like to see in the future is maybe a whole Icons series from Tracey or if the publisher would make this a series with a similar set up for all parts of the world. I know it would make a great edition to my classroom library-which is where my ARC is going. 
Anyway, this is a must have to any middle school history teacher or if you have a middle school history loving student in your life. I highly recommend. 

This book comes out on October 19, 2021.

Youtube: https://youtu.be/dAC5n_gn7OE
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When I was in school in the 1960s and 70s, I don't remember learning anything about African history beyond Egypt.  Fast forward t0 2021.  There is still little non-fiction that sheds light on the diverse and fascinating history of the African continent.  So, I was thrilled to learn about this book.  And after reading the pre-publication eARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley, I'm even more excited.  Baptiste shares a broad history of the continent through the 16th century, framed by the lives of ten important people.  Some of these are already fairly well-known, such as Aesop and Hannibal.  But many of the most fascinating, such as Tin Hinan, the Berber woman who founded a thriving trading city in the Sahara, will be new to readers.  My one concern is that the book is text-heavy, although there are beautiful illustrations scattered throughout, which means librarians and teachers will need to draw the attention of their middle grade students to the book.  Reading a few well-chosen excerpts will hook kids.  With extensive source notes and a well-chosen bibliography, it will also serve young researchers well.  Definitely recommended.
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