Hooray for Anna Hibiscus!

by Atinuke and Lauren Tobia Book 2 of the Anna Hibiscus Series

A pair of chapter books feature a young girl and her family who live in a large city... read more

A pair of chapter books feature a young girl and her family who live in a large city in Africa. Anna Hibiscus’s dad is Black African; her mom is white Canadian. Anna lives with her parents, twin baby brothers, and grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins in their family compound where cars, cell phones, and the Internet are a way of life, but so are traditional dress, food, and values. In these stories, humor is often drawn from situations in which embracing modern ideas has unexpected outcomes. When Anna Hibiscus’s parents decide to take only their immediate family on a vacation to a nearby island—their house is so crowded!—they miss everyone else so much that one by one Anna Hibiscus’s dad brings the rest of their relatives to join them. When Anna’s uncles purchase a generator so the family has light when the electricity goes out—a predictably unpredictable occurrence—all of the children miss the thrill that used to come with each power outage: of playing hide and seek in the dark, of listening to their grandmother’s stories. The way the generator meets its demise is funny, but the decision not to replace it is one that emphasizes the importance of slowing down and taking time to be together in a mindful way. Author Atinuke, who is originally from Nigeria, incorporates the cadence of oral storytelling into the narrative of these warm, energetic volumes that offer an affirming look at African identity. (The author makes clear Anna Hibiscus lives in one of many countries in Africa, but the decision not to specify one in particular seems intentional and appropriate.) She engagingly portrays a contemporary urban African child who is not only surrounded by the love and bustling chaos of her family but is also learning about the larger world right outside her door in which not everyone is as fortunate as she. Enlightening but most of all entertaining, these books are a treat for newly independent readers, as well as children lucky enough to hear them read aloud. (Ages 5–9)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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