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"Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters" at McKinley-Brighton School

You can see a stage performance of John Steptoe's classic 1987 children's book, "Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters" on Thursday, May 28, at 9:00 AM and again at 6:00 PM, at the Southside's McKinley-Brighton School, 141 West Newell St. These are free and open to the public.

The McKinley-Brighton School production is directed by music teacher Theresa Ladd and is her own adaptation of Steptoe's book.

Steptoe based his book on a story the 1895 book, "Kaffir Folktales," which were collected from people living in the vicinity of ruins of an ancient city dating from the 12th-15th centuries in what is now Zimbabwe. The Brooklyn-born ink and watercolor artist researched Africa for the first time himself in order to write and illustrate this book, which won the 1988 Caldecott Award for children's literature.

"Mufaro" recounts the story of the father of the title (whose name in the Shona language means "happy man") and how his two daughters are called to the king's city to be considered for marriage. Though both beautiful, Manyara (whose name means "ashamed") is selfish and sneaky, and Nyasha ("mercy") is gentle and good. The tale has been described as "an African Cinderella story" with the moral that true beauty comes from within.

"Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters" has had a number of major productions, notably the national tour last year by the Dallas Children's Theater, in a stage adaptation by Karen Allen.

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