THE MAGIC DOLL
A Children’s Book Inspired by African Art
By: Adrienne Yabouza
Illustrated by: Elodie Nouhen
Published: September 8, 2020
Publisher: Prestel Junior
In many African countries, women use dolls to become fertile. In this children’s story, a young African girl tells the story of how she came to be born and the myth of Akua’ba, the Ashanti Doll. These dolls are usually carved out of wood with a cylindrical body and a round face. Sometimes, they are specifically carved to look like a boy or a girl. These dolls are then carried on the backs of women all day long in hopes of becoming pregnant.
With beautiful artistry and rhythmic storytelling, the magical story of the Akua’Ba doll is told through a young girl. She tells of her parents wanting a baby after their marriage, yet her mom’s belly was never round like the other young women. Finally, her mom went to a carver to see about getting a doll. She carried it everywhere and loved it as her own. It wasn’t long when one day, her mother noticed her belly was different. The joy and love in this story flow out of the words on the page and in the lovely illustrations.
The illustrations are quite unique. Part collage, part pencil/colored pencil drawings fill the pages and depict the African women and babies, as well as village life. This book is a larger-sized picture book with thick, heavy pages. It will stand up to many turns of the page and sharing of the stories of the Akua’Ba doll and the magic brought to Adjoa’s family.
My favorite message in this book is when Kwame, the father, assures his wife, Ama, that their two hearts will make sure there is enough love for Adjoa and the doll. Our hearts always have room for one more.