Anna Hibiscus by Nigerian-born author Atinuke is the first in a series of early chapter books about a little girl who lives in Africa – “amazing Africa” – with her large extended family. Many of Anna Hibiscus’ experiences are universal – taking care of her younger brothers, or being bored, for instance. At the same time, these stories provide a window into the life of an African family. Young American readers might be surprised that Anna Hibiscus’ grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins all live in one house together. When Anna Hibiscus’ aunties hear that her mother, who was raised in Canada, used to have a bedroom to herself, they feel sorry that she had to be alone. Anna Hibiscus’ life is never lonely (or alone), but full of family, cooking, singing, and stories.
In one of my favorite chapters, Anna Hibiscus sells oranges on the street out of boredom, not realizing that her actions will have negative consequences on the girls whose families depend on their income from selling fruit. When Anna Hibiscus’ grandparents get involved, they help the young girl make amends for her mistake by spending a day assisting the girls in their work.
My family thoroughly enjoyed this sweet, engaging book. The stories are simple enough to be enjoyed by young readers (Grades 1-3), and offer plenty for older children to think and talk about. We listened to the audiobook, read by Mutiyat Ade-Salu in her rich voice and beautiful accent. If you have a road trip planned this summer, this book would be a great choice for family listening.
Shannon blogs about her bookish life at www.shannonrigney.com
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