I had the pleasure of meeting the amazing storyteller and artist Baba Wagué Diakité about two weeks ago. He was participating in the 5th Annual Willamette University Africa Celebration. His illustrations are not the style I usually seek out, but I think you will agree that they are simply beautiful. Baba exudes warmth and joy. He also has a hard time stopping when he gets going about something he is passionate about. :)
His first picture book was The Hunterman and the Crocodile which won a few prestigious awards:
- A 1998 Coretta Scott King Honor Book
- Ana ALA Notable Children’s Bool
- A Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon Book
Find out more about him: http://www.babawague.com/
Baba Wagué Diakité was born in Mali, West Africa, in 1961, and named “Wagué,” or “Man of Trust,” after his maternal grandfather. He spent his early childhood in the small village of Kassaro, where he helped in his grandmother’s peanut and rice fields, tended his uncle’s sheep, and spent time with his friends hunting, catching, or watching animals in the bush. He later joined his mother in Bamako, where he began his formal education in a French school. Though Diakité was always artistically inclined, he didn’t begin the ceramic work for which he is known until after he moved to the United States in 1985.
Since then, his work has been shown in groups and solo shows in New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Houston, and Portland, Oregon. He has been commissioned to create poster designs for a number of Portland arts festivals, and has taught in the Oregon school system through the Art-in-Education program. Diakité’s artistry, combined with his talent for storytelling — well appreciated by the students whose schools he visits — made him a natural for the field of children’s books, and his first picture book, a retelling of one of his grandmother’s fables called The Hunterman and the Crocodile, was named a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Most recently, he has teamed up with his twelve-year-old daughter Penda to publish “I Lost My Tooth in Africa”, a warm family story about the African tooth fairy.
Diakité, his wife, and their two children divide their time between two homes: Portland, Oregon, and Bamako, Mali.