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Title: African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History

Author: Tracey Baptiste

Published: 19th October 2021 – Algonquin Young Readers

Format: Digital (NetGalley eARC) – 176 pages

Hello Hello! How are you?

Popping back on the blog today to bring you my review for African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History by Tracey Baptiste, for the blog tour organised by Algonquin Young Readers.

I read The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste last year and adored it, so as soon as I saw this email in my inbox, I knew I wanted to read this book, and I’m so glad I did. I’m also a big fan of history, especially the type of history that isn’t mainstream, and I learned so much from this book.

Thank you so much to Kelly Doyle and the whole team at Algonquin, as well as Tracey Baptiste for letting me take part in this tour, and thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


In a richly designed work with maps, portraits, and graphics throughout, the award-winning author of the Jumbies series shows readers this underrepresented side of Black history and Black excellence.

Every year, American schoolchildren celebrate Black History Month. They study almost exclusively American stories, which are not only rooted in struggle over enslavement or oppression, but also take in only four hundred years of a rich and thrilling history that goes back many millennia across the African continent. Through portraits of ten historical figures—from Menes, the first ruler to be called Pharaoh, to Queen Idia, a sixteenth-century power broker, visionary, and diplomat—African Icons takes readers on a journey across Africa to meet some of the great leaders and thinkers whose ideas built a continent and shaped our world.


African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History by Tracey Baptiste is a fascinating historical nonfiction book about ten different people who were important in building Africa, along with other information about the country.

I absolutely loved my time reading this book and I would have liked it to be longer still as I am a total history buff and I loved reading about these people, who for many, I hadn’t heard of before to be totally honest with you. I really appreciate books like this one that go back in time and tell history, not necessarily from the winning side, and I think this book and this author did a fantastic job.

I really like reading nonfiction, and history, so I don’t find any of it “boring” or slow just because it’s what I like, but I’m sure that even for people who are not really fans of these genres, they will really enjoy reading this book. I found that it read very easily and seemed almost like fiction because of how fluid it was. It doesn’t info dump even though it’s very factual, which is kind of ironic, but it really wasn’t heavy, it was just the right balance of great writing and historical facts.

What also added to the beauty of this book were the numerous maps, portraits and paintings that were done by Hilary Wilson. They were all absolutely stunning and it was lovely to, in a way, add a face to the names and stories, as well as seeing what these places would have looked like at these times in history. I think the whole book worked stunningly, and even more so with the mix of beautiful writing, fascinating information and gorgeous illustrations.

I think my favourite chapter was the one about Merneith because I had never once heard of this person before, but I loved finding out more about her. But I equally enjoyed the chapters that didn’t focus solely on people, but more on the lands and practices, it was truly captivating.


As you can probably see from my profuse gushing, this was an incredible book that I enjoyed from start to end, and which is a book I know I will buy myself a physical copy of and revisit multiple times.

I’m a total history nerd so there was no question of me liking it, but I have read some very dry and “boring” nonfiction history books, and this was NOTHING like that at all. I guarantee that if you like history, and especially like learning about people and places that are not talked about, then pick up this book!

I gave this book 4.5 stars (no ASPECTS ratings for nonfiction), and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The reason I am noting it down a tiny bit is because I wanted so much more, it’s has nothing to do with quality or content, I’m just being greedy!! I know this is a book for young readers, but a couple pages more of each chapter would have fully satisfied me, yes, I am that annoying person who always wants to know more details aha! Otherwise, this was a truly amazing book, both the writing itself and the illustrations that just made it even more special and well-executed.

If you love history, you find nonfiction fascinating, you love learning about things and people who are unknown, or maybe not part of “popular history narratives”, and you want to learn more about African, practices, customs, and want to see some beautiful illustrations, then this is the book for you. Pick it up now, you won’t regret it!!

That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this post, see you soon, stay safe,

Ellie xx


“I am the New York Times bestselling author of Minecraft: The Crash, as well as the creepy Caribbean series The  Jumbies, which includes The Jumbies (2015), Rise of the Jumbies (2017), and The Jumbie God’s Revenge (scheduled for 2019). I’ve also written the contemporary YA novel Angel’s Grace and 9  non-fiction books for kids in elementary through high school.

I’m a former elementary school teacher, I do lots of author visits, and I’m on the faculty at Lesley University’s Creative Writing MFA program.

My name is pronounced buhTEEST.”

Tracey’s Links: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagramYouTubeGoodreads

This list includes some affiliate links. If you decide to purchase a book from one of my links, I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UKAmazon FRAmazon USAbeBooksThe Book DepositoryAudible FRWaterstonesBarnes and NobleAudible UKScrib’dBlackwell’sBetterWorldBooksWordery

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