Is It Far to Zanzibar?: Poems About Tanzania

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9780688131586: Is It Far to Zanzibar?: Poems About Tanzania
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Over a dozen poems with some aspect of the African country of Tanzania as a theme.

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About the Author:

In 1974, a research grant from the Ford Foundation enabled Nikki Grimes to spend a year doing linguistic and cultural research in Tanzania, East Africa. She toured the country from Mt. Kilimanjaro to the spice island of Zanzibar and brought away scores of stories about the unforgettable people and places she had visited, which later found their way into her poems. She is the author of many books for adults and children, including the Coretta Scott King Honor Book, Meet Danitra Brown, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, Aneesa Lee and the Weaver's Gift, illustrated by Ashley Bryan, and is it far to Zanzibar?, illustrated by Betsy Lewin. She lives in Corona, California.

In Her Own Words...

"The written word has always held a special fascination for me. it seemed uncanny that words, spread across a page just so, had the power to transport me to another time or place. But they could. I spent many hours ensconced in the local library reading-no, devouring-book after book after book. Books were my soul's delight. Even so, in one sense, the stories I read betrayed me. Too few featured African Americans. Fewer still spoke to, or acknowledged the existence of, the particular problems I faced as a black foster child from a dysfunctional and badly broken home. I couldn't articulate it then, but I sensed a need for validation which the books I read did not supply. When I grow up, I thought, I'll write books about children who look and feel like me.

"I was moved around a lot as a child, always having to adjust to new neighborhoods, new schools, new faces. The most difficult aspect of my constant uprooting was struggling to make new friends, leaving them behind, moving to a new neighborhood, and starting the whole process over again.

"Yet I had no choice, for I both needed and wanted friends. The fact that friendships were bound to be short-lived only made them more precious to me. Little wonder that friendship is a theme I return to again and again. Growin', my first book for children, had friendship as its primary focus. The subject recurs in the poems of Something on My Mind and From a Child's Heart. But the subject is most squarely dealt with in Meet Danitra Brown--an ode to friendship if ever there was one!

"Born in Harlem, I have since lived in every borough of New York City except Staten Island. Consequently, cityscapes form the backdrop of most of my writing.

"In addition to children's fiction, I write books and magazine articles for adults. I inherited my father's passion for travel and have been to such places as China, Russia, Austria, Trinidad, and Tanzania, where I spent one year. My longest sojourn was in Sweden, where I lived for six years. In fact, I have Sweden to thank for my favorite hobby: knitting. I like to read, of course, go on long walks, talk with friends, cook, and play word games. But most of all, I love to write!"

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Bus Ride

People jam the open door,
Bright cloth bundles crown the floor,
Wailing infants at my back,
Beetles launching an attack,
Squawking chickens near my seat,
Billy goats sniff at my feet,
Cardboard suitcase on my knees,
Temperature ninety degrees,
I scream, "STOP! Bus driver, please!
Park a minute near those trees.
Let me off this bus right now!"
I'm sure I'll get home somehow.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780688131579: Is It Far to Zanzibar?: Poems About Tanzania

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ISBN 10:  0688131573 ISBN 13:  9780688131579
Publisher: Harpercollins Childrens Books, 2000
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