Anna Hibiscus
Atinuke, author
Lauren Tobia, illustrator
2010
Boston Globe-Hornbook Honor

This is another of those books that I could have sworn I’d already reviewed for this blog…. But, no, sadly I’ve been remiss! I must credit Betsy Bird over at Fuse #8 Production for first drawing my attention to this little gem. We are big Anna Hibiscus fans over here. This is an early chapter book that is wonderfully illustrated. It doesn’t hurt that Anna is probably only a year or so older than my kindergartener nor that she also has twin brothers.

And there the similarities abruptly halt. Anna lives in Africa, Amazing Africa. Atinuke is originally from West Africa and now lives in Wales, I believe. She is a storyteller by trade, and this book simply begs to be read aloud. The rhythm is unmistakably that of a true storyteller. Anna’s family is a middle-upper class family in some unnamed African country. Her mother is Canadian and her father African. They live in a large family compound near a big city. Much of Anna’s extended family lives with them.

One of the many things that intrigues me about these books is the juxtaposition of modern technology with traditional African lifestyles. The family still cooks and eats traditional food but they use cell phones all the time. It’s a refreshingly natural look at contemporary life in another country. Anna has some adventures, but her story really centers on this experience of life with her extended family. My daughter loves Anna so much that we’ve ordered another in the series for her upcoming birthday.

Aaahh… there’s the rub. Thanks to amazon, you’re able to get these books over here; they were published first in the UK to my knowledge and our county library certainly doesn’t have them yet(or didn’t when we first read these earlier this year).

Recommended for elementary

Things to Note/Discuss

  • Take advantage of books like this to discuss other countries and ways of life!
  • The chapter on Anna’s experience of working is very interesting–much to talk about here!
  • Big families–if you have a big family, how does your experience mesh with Anna’s? How is different?
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