Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke

Anna Hibiscus 

Atinuke, Author

Lauren Tobia, Illustrator

Candlewick Press edition, Fiction, Apr. 12, 2022

Suitable for ages: 6-9

Themes: Africa, Nigeria, Family, Traditions, Economics, Class, Poverty, Vacations 

Publisher’s Synopsis:

From acclaimed Nigerian storyteller Atinuke, the first in a series of chapter books set in contemporary West Africa introduces a little girl who has enchanted young readers.

Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa, amazing Africa, with her mother and father, her twin baby brothers (Double and Trouble), and lots of extended family in a big white house with a beautiful garden in a compound in a city. Anna is never lonely—there are always cousins to play and fight with, aunties and uncles laughing and shouting, and parents and grandparents close by.

Readers will happily follow as she goes on a seaside vacation, helps plan a party for Auntie Comfort from Canada (will she remember her Nigerian ways?), learns firsthand what it’s really like to be a child selling oranges outside the gate, and longs to see sweet snow.

Nigerian storyteller Atinuke’s debut book for children and its sequels, with their charming (and abundant) gray-scale drawings by Lauren Tobia, are newly published in the US by Candlewick Press, joining other celebrated Atinuke stories in captivating young readers.

What to I like about Anna Hibiscus:

Such a delightful and entertaining chapter book that contains four individual stories about Anna and her family and their life in West Africa. Children will be happily introduced to Anna’s very large Nigerian family, their traditions, economics and the differences between classes in an age-appropriate way. Pen and ink illustrations wonderfully compliment the stories. 

Children in North America don’t live in extended families. They will be intrigued to learn how important family is to Anna’s family. There are many aunties who work together to shop, prepare food, care for the children, uncles who work, and grandparents who are wise. No matter how noisy and rambunctious, family is everything!

Anna learns that first hand in the very first story when she goes on seaside vacation with her parents (Canadian mother, African father) and her two brothers. It’s boring. It’s a lot of work for her mother. And Anna’s is run ragged babysitting her twin brothers, Double and Trouble. The arrangement isn’t working and soon the entire extended family members begin to arrive at the cottage. And then the fun begins.

I am pleased that Candlewick is now publishing the Anna Hibiscus series of books in the US. Anna is such a spunky and curious character with a big heart. She will take young readers on a journey through Nigeria where they will learn about how other children live.  

Atinuke was born in Nigeria and spent her childhood in both Afria and the UK. She works as a traditional oral storyteller in schools and theaters all over the world. Atinuke is the author of many children’s book, including the Anna Hibiscus series, the No. 1 Car Spotter series, Too Small Tola, Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country, and Catch that Chicken. Atinuke lives on a mountain overlooking the sea in West Wales.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.

 

How to Have a Birthday by Mary Lyn Ray

How to Have a Birthday

Mary Lyn Ray, Author

Cindy Derby, Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Sep. 14, 2021

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Birthday, Traditions, Celebrations, Diversity

Opening“On the morning of your birthday you can tell already that the day is not like others.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

YOUR BIRTHDAY is just one day out of the whole year, but the celebration of you is limitless. On this special day, filled with anticipation and delight, there could be gifts, traditions, or a quiet moment alone to contemplate being one year older.

This is a day to celebrate you and the day you were born. Whatever the day holds, the ordinary will become the extraordinary, so make a wish — it’s your birthday!

Why I like How to Have a Birthday

What a joyful book to read to children a few days before their birthdays to remind them what a miracle they truly are. Mary Lyn Ray’s book is not your traditional birthday book as it encourages children to think more deeply about their day of birth. The very first present is the gift of wonder — what will this day bring? How will you celebrate your day? 

The lyrical text follows follows three diverse families who celebrate with different traditions. Maybe there will be gifts, songs, pictures, balloons, and a cake or pie. Maybe you like to wish upon a shooting star. Or maybe you will want to try something you’ve never done before like visiting a animal rescue center. Some kids may follow family traditions, like measuring their height on the wall.

Cindy Derby’s stunning watercolor and pastel illustrations show children celebrating in different seasons — after all there are 12 birthday months. Her artwork beckons readers to turn the pages and leaves them with a smile on their faces as they think about their special day. This timeless book is for children and individuals of all ages.

Resources:  Ask kids what they would like to do on their birthday. What is their favorite desert? Is it cake, pie or baklava? Do they like to look at birth photos and their baby footprints? Would they like to try something new on their birthday like riding in a hot air balloon, spending a quiet day learning to fly fish or learning to ice skate? Would they like to start a new tradition like donating some of their books and toys to other kids — or asking partygoers to donate to a favorite cause. The possibilities are endless.

Mary Lyn Ray is the author of many acclaimed books for children, including the New York Times bestseller Stars, illustrated by Marla Frazee, as well as The Thank You Book, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin, and The House of Grass and Sky, illustrated by E. B. Goodale. Mary Lyn Ray lives in South Danbury, New Hampshire.  Visit Ray at her website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.