Seven Candles for Kwanzaa
Andrea Davis Pinkney
Pictures by Brian Pinkney
Dial Books for Young Readers, 1993
From the dust jacket: “Kwanzaa is a unique African-American holiday celebrated by millions of families every year between December 26 and January 1. The word kwanzaa comes from the African language Swahili, and means “first fruits of the harvest.”
“Since ancient times, in countries all over Africa, families have joined together to celebrate the end of the harvest and the beginning of the new planting season. Today in the United States, families and friends gather together to commemorate the strength of family ties, respect for ancestors, commitment to the growth of the community, and gratitude for life’s good. For each day of Kwanzaa, a new candle is lit in the seven-branched kinara, or candleholder. Gathering around it, children and adults share their thoughts, sing songs, tell stories from the past, and dream about the future. On the last day, with seven flames dancing, everyone gathers for a delicious feast of traditional foods. Then the party begins!
“The husband and wife team of Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney have collaborated on their own special celebration of Kwanzaa in this beautiful and informative book.”
In Seven Candles for Kwanzaa, all of the traditions and principle of the holiday are explained simply and thoughtfully. It includes examples of what to do for each principle and the pronunciations for the many Swahili words used throughout the celebration. The scratchboard illustrations are beautiful. I reviewed another book illustrated by Brian Pinkney (go HERE to see that book). I like the technique of scratchboard and would like to try it for myself one day. The text is a medium-small, large enough for some experienced readers; but ideally it should be read together as a family, as that is the essence of Kwanzaa.