Mesi: A Girl 'n Grace in Africa is the first of the international titles from the Girls 'n Grace Collection. You can read more about the genesis and focus of this new series of fiction titles for Christian girls in my review of Sydney Clair's Season of Change. As the title indicates, we are taken to Africa to meet Mesi – a young, studious African girl and her family.
Mesi and her family endure many struggles and hardships: crop failure, injury, and poverty. Through these difficulties Mesi comes to seek advice from an elderly woman, much respected in her village. Through this woman, Mesi comes to learn of God’s personal love, and deep concern for her as an individual. All of us have struggled with thoughts that we are too small, our concerns too trivial for God. As we watch Mesi coming to know God personally, we are reminded that when it comes to His children, no concern is too small for Him.
Young readers will enjoy learning about life in Africa through the well-developed storyline and characters. Life there is certainly different than here in North America, and these differences are portrayed very well. They are never exhibited or obtusely pointed out, but are naturally integrated within the story. Our family has a heart for the African people, and we enjoyed learning more about their way of life.
I did notice some discrepancies between the text and the illustrations. For instance, length of characters' hair, colour of a dress and style of jewelry appeared differently in the illustrations than they were depicted in the text. Younger children likely will not notice, but older children and adults certainly will. Hopefully these simple errors will be corrected in an upcoming revision.
Once again, I read this title aloud to my two daughters, and they found it to be more accessible and understandable than Sydney Clair. The issues were closer to home for them, concepts they could more easily identify with than civil rights. While I recommended a reading age of 10 and over if read without adult commentary for Sydney Clair, I feel that the recommended age of 6 and over is appropriate for this title.