September 17, 2020


The Magic Doll by Adrienne Yabouza and √Člodie Nouhen is a story of deep motherly love inspired by the African fertility doll Akua'ba.

One day while her mother is cooking, a young girl sees her mother's favorite dolly and is reminded of how the doll--an Akua-Ba fertility doll--helped her mother remain positive in her pregnancy journey and eventually conceive. After years of trying to have a baby, the mother seeks the help of a fertility statue called Akua'ba. Per tradition, she carries Dolly around as though it is a real child, loving it like she would a human baby, always asking Dolly to grant her wish. One beautiful day she gets her wish, bringing us our narrator Adjoa who reveals at the end of the book that her mother is pregnant with her second child.

The illustrations are a stunning mixture of collaged papers, inks, paints, prints, and more. Nouhen's focuses inked, detailed patterns on items that would normally be textured like animals and dresses, and the rest is mixtures of collaged blocks of color, all with varying levels of opacity and texturing. Nouhen's use of space is also notable, as these overlapping blocks of color add a level of depth to the spreads without  rooting each image on the page to a single spot. Rather, each piece of the illustration, whether in the foreground or the background, looks like it's floating, hearkening back to the notion that a young girl is physically constructing a story for her listeners.

The Magic Doll published last week from Prestel Junior.

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