Thursday, October 3, 2013

Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke, Illustrated by Lauren Tobia

Image from
Kane Miller, 2010

“Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa.” Anna lives with there in a big house with her African father, Canadian mother, twin baby brothers (Double and Trouble), paternal grandparents, and countless uncles, aunties, and cousins. Her wishes, dreams, curiosities, worries, and triumphs are told in a series of short stories. Whether it’s dreaming of snow, a visit from Auntie Comfort, or a vacation at the beach, you can count on Anna Hisbiscus to make the most of the situation!

This short book features a rambunctious and inquisitive protagonist. Anna doesn’t just observe, she makes mistakes, tries new things, and learns lessons about the world outside her familly’s compound. Each chapter is an episodic story full of cultural markers that evoke “Amazing Africa”, including foods, cultural customs, and clothing. The text and images illustrate how Anna’s culture is a mix of old and new, traditional and modern. Her family wears traditional clothing to church on Sundays. Everyone’s clothing is cut from “the one same cloth” to show they are “one same family.” On the other hand, Anna’s mother shows her how to send a text message to her Auntie Comfort in America. Tobia’s greyscale illustrations are playful and lively, using many different angles to bring Anna’s bustling world to life. Atinuke is an international storyteller who grew up in Nigeria. So it is no surprise that this book is a great read aloud. A good recommendation for a parent looking for a read aloud for the whole family. It’s also a great book for readers transitioning into chapter books. Although the stories are in chronological order, they could easily stand alone.

Read a chapter of the book to get an idea of Atinuke’s storytelling style (click on “sneak preview”).

*Check out the author’s blog to learn more about her travels and her storytelling.

*More books with stories about Anna Hibiscus and her family:

Ruby Lu, Brave and True by Lenore Look 
Year of the Dog by Grace Lin

Age 6+ / Grade 1+


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