Children Books Writer, Ann Grifalconi, Dies at 90

Her books, notably “The Village of Round and Square Houses,” set in Central Africa, introduced young readers to stories from different cultures.

Ann Grifalconi in an undated photo. She drew on other cultures, often those of Africa, in writing and illustrating children’s books.
Ann Grifalconi in an undated photo. She drew on other cultures, often those of Africa, in writing and illustrating children’s books.Credit…via Lola Stanton
Daniel E. Slotnik

Ann Grifalconi, who drew on different cultures to write and illustrate dozens of well-regarded children’s books, notably the award-winning “The Village of Round and Square Houses,” set in Central Africa, died on Feb. 19 in Manhattan. She was 90.

Her niece, Mia Grifalconi, said the cause was complications of advanced dementia.

Ms. Grifalconi, who was white, often based her books on the traditions and experiences of people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, especially Africans and African-Americans.

She said a trip to a remote hamlet in Cameroon had inspired her to write and illustrate “The Village of Round and Square Houses” (1986), which recounts a local folk tale describing how women there came to live in round houses and men in square ones after a volcanic eruption.

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