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Chester comics history for the visual learner or reluctant reader


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Ancient Africa

Chester the Crab takes you on a trip through the ancient and powerful African kingdoms of Egypt and Mali in this look at cultures that have contributed a lot to the diversity of modern America. See how trade bound these Africans to other Mediterranean societies. Then watch as European sailors begin dealing with African slave traders to send millions of people against their will to North America in “The Middle Passage.” This colorful graphic novel will excite reluctant readers, prepare students for standardized tests in history and help home-schooling parents!

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Comic sample page #1: Who built the Empire of Mali?
Comic sample page #2: How did Mali’s Gold Travel?
Topics covered in this comic book
Teacher Guide


Who built the Mali empire?


How did Mansa Musa carry Mali's gold?

Chapter 1: Life on the Nile

The word “ancient” means long, long ago. Ancient Egypt was a civilization that lasted for hundreds of years along the Nile River in Africa’s northern desert area. The design of Egypt’s buildings is symbolized in the giant stone pyramids that still stand in that desert. Many other Egyptian ideas and inventions are still with us today…

Life on the Nile includes the following topics:

  • What is the world’s longest river?
  • Who got to be a pharaoh?
  • How did Egyptians build pyramids?
  • Did Egyptians love their mummies?
  • Did Egyptians make cartoons?

Chapter 2: Mediterranean Trade

Phoenicians settle a colony on the coast of North Africa so they can trade better with other communities around the Mediterranean Sea. Carthage becomes an important center for the exchange of goods, services, and ideas. Chester finds himself on a trading voyage from Carthage to Egypt, but those storm clouds look like trouble…

Trade in Carthage includes the following topics:

  • How do you find Phoenician take-out?
  • Who were expert ancient traders?
  • How many jugs can a trading ship juggle?
  • What kind of clouds lead to storms?
  • What kind of trip is an “Odyssey?”

Chapter 3: The Mali Empire

Mali is another of Africa’s great empires. Mali becomes powerful by controlling trade from the gold mines of West Africa to the sources of salt in the Sahara Desert. People trade because resources, goods, and services are limited. West Africa had gold but needed salt to preserve its food. People in the desert had plenty of salt but wanted gold to trade for other things. Chester traces Mali’s role in these exchanges as he rides with one big caravan of gold.

The Mali Empire includes the following topics:

  • Who built the empire of Mali?
  • Who was Mali’s Mansa Musa?
  • How did Mali’s gold travel?
  • Did Mali have religious freedom?
  • What did Timbuktu schools do?

Chapter 4: The Middle Passage

Slavery has existed for thousands of years, in civilizations from Egypt to West Africa. When European sailors begin trading with West African communities, they begin to take humans, too. The Spanish need more workers because they kill many Native Americans in slavery on sugar plantations in their American colonies. The Spanish use Africans to replace those workers. How many Africans will suffer through “The Middle Passage” between Africa and the Americas?

The Middle Passage includes the following topics:

  • Which civilizations used slavery?
  • Who brought Africans to America?
  • How did Africans get to Jamestown?
  • Were the first Africans in Virginia slaves?
  • When did Virginia legalize slavery?

View the Teacher’s Guide for this comic!

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