Seven Spools of Thread

A Kwanzaa Story

In an African village live seven brothers who make family life miserable with their constant fighting. When their father dies, he leaves an unusual will: by sundown, the brothers must make gold out of seven spools of thread. If they fail, they will be turned out as beggars. Using the Nguzo Saba, or “seven principles” of Kwanzaa, the author has created an unforgettable story that shows how family members can pull together, for their own good and the good of the entire community. Magnificent and inspiring linoleum block prints by Daniel Minter bring joy to this Kwanzaa celebration.

  • 40 Pages
  • 8" x 10"
  • 9780807573167
  • September 2000

Buy from Albert Whitman

  • 9780807573174
  • May 2015

Other Places to Buy


  • Medearis has crafted an original story with the timeless tone of a traditional folktale, subtly incorporating the seven principles of Kwanzaa into her plot…Minter’s striking linoleum block-print illustrations complement the story perfectly, with the seven decidedly different brothers shown in silhouette against jewel-bright backgrounds full of intriguing details of African village life…A fine choice for a Kwanzaa gift, and a first choice for most school and public-library collections.

    - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

  • Well-paced, the story incorporates the Kwanzaa values without spelling them out too much. Minter’s attractively composed, dramatic painted woodcuts, with strong community images and lively, silhouetted figures, root the story in a sun-drenched, magical landscape that will draw children even after repeated readings.

    - Booklist

  • Striking woodcuts and a resonant original folktale are the warp and weft of this understated, effective approach to Kwanzaa. Beginning with a brief description of the holiday’s origins and its seven principles, Medearis skillfully weaves these tenets into an entertaining story.

    - Publishers Weekly, starred review

  • This well-written story with a purpose shows how seven Ashanti brothers utilize the seven principles of Kwanzaa in order to live harmoniously and to earn their inheritance…An attractive addition.

    - School Library Journal

Awards & Accolades

  • Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2001
  • Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People for 2001
  • 2001 ALA Notable Book for Children
  • 2002-2003 Show Me Readers Award Master List
  • 2003 Louisiana Young Readers’ Choice Award Master List
  • Not Just for Children Anymore! 2001
  • 2001 Notable Books for a Global Society Honor Book
  • 2003 Winner, Storytelling World Award


Daniel Minter

Common Core

RL.2.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10 RL.3.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10 RL.4.1,2,3,4,5,6,9,10


  • Accelerated Reader Points: 0.50
  • ATOS Level: 3.90