previous book | return to matrix | next book

When Africa Was Home  

The anthills of Africa were taller than Peter—at least when he was little and Africa was home. His playmates in the village didn't think a thing about his white skin or golden hair. But his nanny did. Mayi told Peter's mother the boy should wear a hat because of the hot sun.

Somehow, Peter never wore a hat in Africa. He ran up the anthills barefoot and ate sugar cane in the shade of red flame trees. But when Peter has to return to his real home in America he misses Africa deeply. He misses his friend Yekha and his Mayi, hearing the hippos moo, the hyenas groan, the drums sing in the distance. More than anything he wishes he were home again in Africa. This book in eloquent words and glowing pictures, shows why.


Behind the Story

Peter was not even a year old when we took him to Malawi for what turned out to be nearly four years. He had a wonderful freedom there—time and space to run and play with a whole village of friends outside his door. But it was a bit of a shock to me to realize that while I still considered America to be my home, Peter did not even remember anything at all about the United States. Africa was the only home he knew. I wrote this story after we had returned to Pittsburgh. As I wrote in my tiny study, I was so involved in the story that I felt like I had traveled back to Africa. Sometimes I was so homesick for the quiet lifestyle and gentle people there that I found myself writing with tears running down my cheeks. After I finished the book I thought that no one would be interested in reading about Peter’s life in Africa unless they had lived there too. But I was wrong, this book resonates with many readers and I know that is because I was able to capture my passion for the a place that still remains very close to my heart.

Illustrator: Floyd Cooper

Publisher: Orchard Books

Buy the book: Amazon


Download the Teacher's Guide for this book. [1.1 MB PDF]


© 2013 Karen Lynn Williams