Atinuke is a Nigerian-born author who started her career doing traditional oral storytelling. Her books include a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Winner, a Notable Book for a Global Society, a Cybils Award Winner, and an Africana Award Winner. She lives in Wales.
(Lost a more thorough review.) Fairly intense, for a book aimed at such a young audience. But it reflects reality, and children do need to learn such. Better from this fun, funny, and sweet set of stories now, when they're young. Highly recommended.
Rarer than quality books. More elusive than good picture books for older readers. The goal, the gem, the one kind of book all children’s librarians seek but know are so difficult to find . . . . the really well written early chapter book. Now let’s say you’ve found one. It happens. Lots exist, to a certain extent (and if you know where to look). Please do me the favor of now asking yourself the following questions about said book: (A) Does it contain characters from another country? If you answered yes, then (B) Are those characters human? At this point, we aren’t even talking about rare early chapter books. We’re talking about near non-existent ones in the American book marketplace. Even if you answered yes to both (A) and (B), can you still guarantee me that the book is really well written with phenomenal illustrations? Cause aside from the occasional White Elephant or Rickshaw Girl there's not a whole heckuva lot to choose from. That’s probably part of the reason I’m so enormously fond of this new Anna Hibiscus series by Nigeria-born author Atinuke. Not only are the stories in both Anna Hibiscus and its sequel Hooray for Anna Hibiscus charming but they manage to walk the fine line that exists between truth and perception. There’s not a kid in this country that won’t identify with Anna right off the bat, even if her life is entirely different from their own.
“Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa.” Get used to those words. It won’t be the last time you hear them. Anna Hibiscus is a little girl who lives in a beautiful white compound surrounded by her extended family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents all live together in a single home. Anna’s mother is originally from Canada, but she fits right in with everyone and the books Anna Hibiscus and Hooray for Anna Hibiscus follow Anna's small adventures with her family. One minute she’s obsessed with the idea of snow, and the next she’s singing a song for a president of another country. Sometimes she has to watch her twin baby brothers Double and Trouble, and sometimes she’s watching the family goat butt heads with the family’s new generator. Whatever the case, Anna’s a sweet, thoroughly likable character and readers will find themselves longing for a life where there are always cousins to play with, and sweet mango trees in the backyard to climb for fun.
She has a way with words, that Atinuke. It will surprise no one reading these stories that she is a professional storyteller. For example, any kid who has ever had a younger sibling that was teething will instantly understand why Atinuke uses capital letters to describe the newly awakened Double and Trouble with the sentence, “They were Awake and Angry.” The tone of the books is always dead on. Though Anna learns a couple lessons in the course of these tales, you never feel as if the books are preachy or didactic. For example, when Anna refuses to get her hair done any more, all her grandmother has to say is “Leave her. She will learn,” and you know that grandma speaks the exact truth.
Atinuke’s other great strength is that she manages to balance the contemporary and the traditional with ease. I’m sure we may have an early chapter book or two set in Africa (though none immediately come to mind) but I CERTAINLY can’t think of any that take place in a modern setting. The only book that comes to mind was City Boy by Jan Michael, and that certainly was a title for older readers. In the Anna Hibiscus books, though, uncles are calling one another on cell phones and Anna's texting her aunt across the sea. At the same time, the story "Auntie Comfort" defines the traditions of the family that are still in place. Says the book, "Anna's mother and father and aunties and uncles drive to work in their cars. They send text messages and e-mails around the world, and call from the market on their mobile phones to see what shopping needs doing. But the clothes they wear are made from colorful African cloth, waxed and dyed and printed. The languages they speak are African as well as English." So the duality of old and new are shown in a clever little tale. One that I suspect won't age all that readily.
It’s interesting to me that the very first story in Anna Hibiscus is a tale of how Anna and her mom, dad, and brothers try to take a vacation without the extended relatives, only to realize that they need them more than they thought. At first I was puzzled as to why you’d just thrust the reader into the family situation so abruptly. Then I realized that Atinuke uses this story to introduce to kids the notion of having lots of cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents around at all times. It’s like the characters are being introduced on a stage to our applause. And once you understand the living situation (everyone lives in one big house) the rest of the book will make that much more sense. The story also reminded me more than a little of that classic folktale It Could Always Be Worse, which is fun.
Two of the stories in the books are rather similar to one another, but I appreciated their presence. Part of what makes the Anna Hibiscus tales so remarkable is that Anna learns continually about differences in class. So in the first book, the story ���Anna Hibiscus sells oranges” tells the tale of Anna envying the girls outside her compound who must sell fruit to earn a living, only to learn what it really means to have to be a kid and work for a living. In the second book, “The other side of the city” shows Anna the poorer neighborhoods of her town. These are very careful little stories, but they really reinforce the message of being grateful for what you already have. That’s not the only topic Atinuke isn’t afraid to broach in an early chapter book, of course. I’ve almost never seen a book that talks about the amount of work that goes into styling African hair that is “thicker and shinier and curlier than any other hair in the whole world.” The tale of Anna’s refusal to engage in the traditional Saturday braiding and weaving of her hair and the horrific results of that choice is like no story I’ve ever read anywhere before.
Now right from the start folks might worry that the men in this book all seem to go to work while the women stay home and remain traditional keepers of the home. That is not really the case, though. One of the first stories in the book is about Auntie Comfort who lives and has a job in America and whom Grandfather worries may have forgotten her African roots (no reason to fear). In the course of that tale we learn that everyone in the home has a job. And in the second book we hear a lot about the various jobs the aunts hold in the family. It seems that only Anna’s grandfather and grandmother are always home without jobs. Not a problem as I see it.
All this would be enough but it’s illustrator Lauren Tobia who knows how to really bring these stories to life. Every character in these books looks exactly right. Anna herself is charming. Half the time (if you’re watching) her flip-flops go flying hither and thither without her notice. I love the different kinds of braided hair you notice throughout the text and the clothes. With just a few swipes of the pen, Ms. Tobia can conjure up a situation fraught with stress or the nicest, homiest family scene. If kids start yearning to belong to a gigantic fun family like the one Anna Hibiscus belongs to, at least some of the credit is going to have to go to Lauren Tobia for capturing this idyllic community.
Admittedly, I would have liked Atinuke to give her books a country and not just a vague “Africa” for where they take place. It’s great for kids to know what life is like overseas, but there’s always the danger that they’ll just assume that all of Africa is one and the same. That said, it’s hard to find much fault with such a lovely series. From the pictures to the stories to the writing to the tone, everything about these books makes you feel happy and content. Here’s hoping there are more Anna Hibiscus books somewhere in the works. A finer crop of overseas fare I have yet to find for the early chapter book set. Memorable and enchanting.
We all loved this one just as much as the first! I feel like listening to it as an audiobook is a really great part of the experience. I appreciate Anna Hibiscus’ determined nature and really kind heart.
In this follow-up to her initial collection of stories about Anna Hibiscus, a young girl living in Africa - "Amazing Africa!," as the narrator informs us - author Atinuke once again delivers a heartwarming story about a girl, her family, her city and her (unnamed) country. In Anna 'biscus! Sing!, our young heroine's singing prowess is recognized at school, and she is chosen to sing a solo at a welcoming ceremony for a foreign President, to be held at the National Stadium. When Anna, who is a natural songstress, freezes up on the big day, her twin brothers Double and Trouble know just what to do to get her going. Your Hair, Anna Hibiscus sees Anna rebelling against the involved hair-care process that all the women and girls of her extended family engaging in every Saturday, with predictably disastrous results. Anna Hibiscus and the New Generator relates how Anna's family once dealt with the periodic power outages affecting her city - talking and playing together, listening to Grandmother's stories - and how they behaved once their newly purchased generator made those outages a thing of the past. Finally, in The Other Side of the City, Anna learns just how fortunate she is when she convinces the elders of her family to allow her to visit the poorer part of the city. Her generosity prompts her to take action, with some surprising results...
I enjoyed Hooray for Anna Hibiscus! every bit as much as its predecessor, finding the eponymous Anna a believable and sympathetic young heroine. I continue to find the family dynamics depicted in Atinuke's stories immensely appealing, being particularly impressed with the way that her wise and patient grandparents allow her to make mistakes and to undertake potentially painful experiences, so that she can learn new things for herself. This is demonstrated in the story having to do with hair-care - when Anna insists she will follow her own road on the matter, her grandmother allows her to have her way, no doubt knowing that the resultant problems will be a better teacher for her granddaughter than anything she could say. Likewise, in the chapter in which Anna romanticizes the 'other' side of the city, her elders let her go and see what it is like herself, teaching her a valuable lesson about the many blessings she enjoys and the privations that so many others suffer. This episode reminded me of the story from the first collection of Anna Hibiscus stories, in which Anna thinks being an orange vendor is exciting, never considering what hard and unpleasant work it is for the girls who have no other choice. I have seen these books criticized for locating the story in 'Africa,' rather than in a specific country, but I think that Atinuke, who was herself born in Nigeria, has created an authentic sense of culture and place, even if that culture and place remain unnamed.
In sum: engaging, entertaining, and heartwarming, this second volume of Anna Hibiscus stories is a worthy follow-up to the first, and left me wanting more of its titular main character and her family. Recommended to anyone looking for beginning chapter-book fare featuring Africa, extended families, or feisty but goodhearted young girls.
I love these books so much. As early reader chapter books, they are a bit advanced for our 7-year-old to read alone, but it's good because they are even better to read together. This one dealt with textured hair care and poverty in highly skillful ways that resonate with our daughter. Every single book impresses me with its originality, skilled storytelling, courageous themes, and downright charm. If you have kids in the 5-10 age range and haven't read these, do.
Again, loved these sweet and funny stories. My favorite was the generator one and how they were much happier when the generator broke. I also liked hearing about how Anna Hibiscus and her family do their hair.
1st Review: There are three stories in this book. One of them is........
Here is my review: Anna Hibiscus likes to sing. She made up a song called "Snow". Then she finds out that the president of another country is coming to Africa where she lives. When her teacher says they will need a dancer, a speaker and a singer to dance, speak and sing for the president, all Anna's friends say that Anna can sing. But when she gets up on stage, she forgets her song! Double and Trouble ( Anna's baby brothers ) start to wiggle. They say: "Anna Hibiscus! Sing!" Anna remembers her song......and sings!!!!
2nd Review: There are three stories in this book. One of them is........
Here is my review: Anna Hibiscus has curly hair that has to stay neat. She hates the tugging and pulling when her aunties and Grandmother braid it. Then she runs away the day when the braiding aunties come. When she comes back, she insists that she keeps it in two pom-poms. When she goes to school, all the children laugh at her hair. In the end, she finally lets her Grandmother fix it.
Once again, we are enjoying this series-- this book, like the others, is only four chapters which read more like short stories, but they are well-written glimpses into the life of a young girl who lives in Africa. My kids got to see the many similarities they share with Anna (love of family, curious toddler siblings, stage fright, favorite clothes, etc.) and also some differences (hair care, generator power, and the level of poverty in the city). The last chapter involving poverty was well done too, and didn't try too much to philosophize on an adult level (though it could be an important conversation starter), but showed the conditions some children live in and also showed Anna being an example in giving what she had.
In this sequel to Anna Hibiscus, Anna continues her adventures. This is a collection of four short stories that all start out with the same introduction to our main character: "Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa. In a country called Nigeria." She has a variety of adventures, many of which involve the extended family that live with her in a big house. Anna loves to sing, especially to her baby brothers Double and Trouble, and sings even at the school she is fortunate to attend. When she is chosen to sing for a visiting dignitary in a big venue, she loses her nerve for a moment, until she remembers how much she loves to sing. Anna is not a big fan of the weekly visits from the hair braiders, so runs off when they come. Her mother wants to make sure that her hair is taken care of, but Anna's grandmother advises that they just leave her alone. Anna tries to do her own hair, but it doesn't end well, and it becomes more and more unkempt as the week passes. Children at school make fun of her, and Anna is unable even to get a comb through it! Luckily, her grandmother patiently tries to fix the damage, but Anns is much more amenable to spending time every week after her disastrous experiment. When the power goes out repeatedly, Anna's uncles buy a generator, but Anna and her grandparents miss the quiet and quality family time they experience when everyone is not depending on electrical devices to amuse them. In a final story, Anna want to go with relatives to other side of city, even though they tell her that she doesn't want to see the poverty that exists there. It is hard for Anna to see, but she tries to help out the underprivileged children with whom she comes in contact, giving away her shoes and even her clothing!
I'm a huge fan of early reader series, and while recent years have seen an increase in culturally connected ones like Citro's Zoey and Sassafras or Florence's Jasmine Toguchi, it is still hard to find books that are set in other countries. I have many students whose families have Nigerian heritage, and it is fascinating to see the differences in the clothing, way of life, and family dynamics in that country. While Anna's family is fairly comfortable, Atinuke's Too Small Tola offers a look at a less well-to-do lifestyle.
Tobia's black and white line drawings offer a good glimpse of backgrounds that will not be familiar to US readers, and support the text well. It's good to see reissues of this series, which started in 2010. This is a great series to introduce young readers to life in Nigeria, while Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina focuses on life in Colombia, Low's Sherlock Sam is set in Singapore, and Rickshaw Girl by Perkins takes place in Bangladesh.
Lexile level 660. There are several short stories in this book. I like the last story.
Anna Hibiscus wanted to go to the other side of the city which she lives in. She asked they are all a family, Grandparents, her parent, uncles and aunties. But nobody allowed at first. Because at the other side of the city, the area is poor area. Adults thought that it is not good to see the poverty for Anna Hibiscus. And she doesn’t steal know about poverty. Finally her grandfather said yes, Anna Hibiscus was excited so much. And then, she wore the special dress and special ribbons on her hair. When she arrived the other side of the city, she shocked about what she was seeing. No legs girl, children food or eating ravish. She was scared. But her eyes were contacted with a girl Who was wearing only a panty. Anna Hibiscus decided to give her flip-flop to her. Anna Hibiscus also decided to give her ribbons to no legs girl. Anna Hibiscus decided to give her special dress to another poor girl. Anna Hibiscus ended up to go home wearing only a panty. When her family saw her, they were so surprised. But they know what happened, they were so proud of her.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
The last chapter in this one ended up a little heavier than I expected (compared to the others in the series), with its foray into the poverty experienced by other in Anna’s city (not a criticism, as it led to some good discussions, but just something that caught me off guard). I love that all three of my kids are fascinated by her story, learn about people who are different than them, and that they are prompted to ask questions and seek to learn more (my boys expressed amazement that there were such big cities in Africa, since the people they know on the continent live in much more rural contexts). These are so sweet, fun, and educational.
Anyone who has ever read an Anna Hibiscus book knows how wonderful they are! This book, the second in the series, was also delightful. The setting is in Nigeria, and describes family life there very well, as family structure is often quite different as many extended family members life together. I couldn't keep them on the shelves back in my libraryland days.
Such sweet stories for my foster daughter that help us discuss honesty, generosity, poverty, and the beautiful and necessary rhythm of doing her hair each week. Liked this one even better than the first.
These books have it all! Charming illustrations, the kind of storytelling formulas that kids love ("Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa, Amazing Africa!" begins each story), characters in context without too many asides for explanation or comparison, and a holistic look at community.
I can't get enough of these, and it makes my heart swell to bursting to see my children connect with these stories about a land so far away and so different (Alaska and Africa may be the same number of letters and begin with A, but that's where the similarities end at first glance).
THIS is how I want my children to learn about cultures that we don't have the opportunity to experience firsthand! My children easily identify differences between Anna Hibiscus' life and their own, and are fascinated by them. More often, though, I sense that they attach themselves to the experiences and emotions common to all children that anchors them in blessed friendship.
Every once in a while I feel like one of the obvious themes or "morals" of the short stories/chapters is a little heavy-handed, but they are never as preachy/pre-digested as the twaddle that I often see in modern children's lit. And the author's style really is just irresistible! I love the conversations these stories spark with my 5 and 7 year olds!
Children's chapter book series about a young girl growing up in Africa, within her family's walled-in compound. The stories are bursting with authentic African scenery and daily life. The protagonist is only five or six years old, which is young for a chapter book, but it works well for this series because it allows readers to learn things about African culture while Anna herself grows in her understanding of the world around her. While Anna's family is financially secure, Anna and her readers come into contact with some true poverty when she ventures outside the walls of her family's compound. Her parents are bi-racial; her mother is Canadian and her father is African. I love Anna's large extended family and the rich cultural experience I'm able to have with them. And I love the illustrations, which allow readers to connect more deeply to the exotic setting and the family compound. Warm, funny, and educational. Highly recommend.
In this second series installment, I especially love how the various family members react to the new generator.
I am absolutely falling in love with this series. Engaging stories, a sweet main character, subtle messages respecting family and the elderly and generosity. . .what's not to like?!
This book had a story about Anna resenting her hair and the time it takes to maintain it even though "short or long, the hair of an African girl is thicker and shiner and curlier than any other hair in the whole world" (35). Grandma's wisdom allowed her to learn a valuable lesson about her attitude. I must admit I was a little concerned where this story was going, as I have worked hard to teach my daughter to love her curls and didn't want her to identify too much with the bad attitude, but I think she will be able to relate to the story with a chuckle and a greater appreciation for her hair.
(As an aside, I loved that Kiana brought me the first book in the series, which she is currently reading, to show me a picture of Anna and request "Next time, can I have my hair fixed like this?")
A few different events happened for Anna Hibiscus in #2 of this series. She has the chance to sing in front of a president of a country. She learns the hard way why the women in the family braid their hair every week. Her family buys a generator to deal with the intermittent electricity. And she goes with her aunt and uncle to visit the island across the lagoon from her house where she finds dire poverty. How she reacted to it all was priceless. She is growing in the sense of her place in her family and in her country. She sees that not everyone lives like her own family.
I have to that the names of her twin brothers, Double and Trouble, as well as other relatives are interesting to learn. They are not your standard first names, they are names like Joy, Comfort, Double and Trouble. And yes the twins can be double trouble at times.
This is a terrific installment in the Anna Hibiscus series. As with the first installment, each chapter starts with the mantra "Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa" (7), providing a great perspective on an unrepresented locale in American children's fiction. The chapters in this edition cover stage fright, Anna's coarse and beautiful hair, the abundant power outages in Africa, and poverty. Even the weightier subjects are covered with a point of view that even my three-year-old son could understand (not to mention my five-year-old daughter) and the book gave us the foundation for some terrific conversations. I recommend this book to every parent. It's an important way to broaden your children's horizons or to reinforce their sense of self!
This has one very dark scene in it -- Anna Hibiscus realizes that not everyone has the privileged life she does. The depiction of poverty in an African city is brutal. (Maxie put her hands over her ears when I read it to her, and this is the only Anna Hibiscus book she won't read on her own.) I appreciate that it's handled not-at-all didactically, and I say again I LOVE THESE BOOKS, but be forewarned. (That said, too, I think even a 6-year-old American kid should understand how lucky she is. That's why I kept reading aloud despite Maxie's hands being on her ears.) I also really liked the juxtaposition of the goofy bits -- a goat kicking a generator, Anna Hibiscus's little brothers Double and Trouble bellowing "Sing, Anna Biscus!" -- with the distressing chapter. Life's like that.
I LOVED this book but the last story bothered my daughter, whom I read this book with. The story is about Anna visiting a different part of town that is filled with families that have nothing - the children scrounge around in the garbage heap. A little beggar girl that greeted them as they entered had no legs. This is what scared my daughter because she thought that could happen to her - she hadn't ever heard of a little girl having no legs. This is why I actually like reading this series, because it exposes my daughter to some of the harsh realities of children from Africa, for example. It's helping broaden her world view in a way that is generally gentle and easy to understand.
Anna Hibiscus is my absolute favorite!Just ask my mom. They are also Reading Counts so now I have up to 171 points! By the end of this school year I plan to have 200 book points and I will get those points easy by just reading this great series of the amazing world of Africa. Once you pick up one of these books you think that it would be an easy put down but you never want to trust me! BEST BOOK SERIES EVER TRUST ME!!!!!!!!!
Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa with all her family. Because she loves to sing, she is chosen to sing in front of the president that visits her country. She also does not like to have her hair comb, so she does what she wants. But afterwards, she learns that combing her hair is necessary to look nice. When her father buys a generator, Anna discovers that this machines keeps the lights on. Anna visits the other side of the city and loses one of her flip flops. I like the stories.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
A wonderful heartwarming series about a girl who lives in Africa. Four simple chapters perfect for 2nd or 3rd grade include Anna 'biscus Sing!; You Hair, Anna Hibiscus; Anna Hibiscus and the New Generator; and The other Side of the City. Readers will learn about life in Africa from a middle income child who experiences life -the hard life and the easy life.
A collection of quick stories about a young girl growing up in generic Africa. These are written in a regular English style (not the broken English of Atinuke's No. 1 Car Spotter) and represent middle to upper class life. The most compelling stories in this collection were about Anna trying to avoid the weekly family braiding and then Anna visiting the poor side of town.
This was very cute again (and teaches you African life values again) but some of the plot points came off a little weird. Example: one of the stories is all about Anna's struggles with her hair, but it barely comes up that her mom, who is white, has totally different hair that is easy to deal with. It just seemed odd to me that her own mother didn't inform Anna's feelings at all.
Check my review on the first book in this series, Anna Hibiscus. The hair story is actually in this book, which may be even better than the first book. Yes, I think it is even better than the first book.