Sunday, February 20, 2011

Anna Hibiscus - a charming short chapter book from Africa (ages 6 - 10)

One of the things I love is when reading provides a window into another part of the world. Anna Hibiscus, a new series of short chapter books, provides a wonderful view into the world of a young girl living in a modern, middle-class African city. The author, Atinuke, creates a likeable character, a little girl children will relate to, seeing much of themselves in her stories. But children will also appreciate how Anna Hibiscus's family keeps their traditional African ways.
Anna Hibiscus
by Atinuke
San Diego: Kane / Miller, 2010
ages 6 - 10
available directly from publisher and at your local bookstore

Anna Hibiscus is a perfect early chapter book, combining humor, nuance and a wonderful sense of cross-cultural connections. As a school librarian and a parent, I know how hard it is to find books that engage children who are beyond "readers" and ready to move into chapter books.

Anna Hibiscus lives with her large extended family in Africa, “Amazing Africa”. They are a middle class family who commute to jobs in the city, talk on cell phones, and send text messages across the Atlantic. But they are also a large family who still keep many of the traditional African ways, living all together in a large compound where the cousins run and play, aunties pound yam in the courtyard after getting home from work in the office, and everyone wears traditional African clothing.

Anna’s family is clearly one full of love and support, but they also have their challenges. Life is busy when you live with all your cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents. But this extended family provides wonderful support and entertainment for Anna and her immediate family.

Atinuke, a Nigerian born storyteller, has written a series that addresses issues such as cultural identity and economic issues with grace and a light hand, being both serious and humorous at the same time. Tobia's pen-and-ink sketches help young readers visualize Anna’s family, and the African customs and clothing. The stories will make young readers laugh, feel connections and understand life in modern Africa. Anna Hibiscus is followed by three other installments. Each features four short stand-alone chapters, good for readers beginning to read chapter books.

Head over to the Kane/Miller site to read the first chapter of the book. And look for all four in the series:
This is really a series worth seeking out. If you're a librarian, there is a library binding available directly from the publishers: Kane/Miller. If you're a parent, ask your local bookstore and library to stock this book.

It's perfect for kids who enjoy Ivy & Bean, and Ruby Lu, Brave & True.

The review copy was kindly sent by Kane / Miller. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support!

Review ©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books. 

1 comment:

  1. The repetitive opening of each story is a wonderful confidence builder for new readers. We loved this book in our house.

    PS - I just added it to our I Can Read carnival for February. It is such a wonderful selection!