I have written it before and I will write it again, I love stories that explore other cultures. They are so important to help children understand and experience a culture that is different to their own. Through the stories of Anna Hibiscus, Nigerian born author Atinuke gives young children an insight into what it is like growing up in Africa.
Anna Hibiscus lives in a very busy household with her entire family. It is great fun playing with cousins and hiding from aunts and uncles. Anna gets to do lots of fun things like going on holiday, playing in the sea, enjoying big family celebrations and even selling oranges! But the one thing she really wants is to see snow…
Over four short stories we meet Anna Hibiscus and her lovely family and get a glimpse into African life. Readers are immersed into Anna’s world right from the first word, “Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa.” This is how each of the four stories begins. Anna lives in a big white house with all of her family. The household is full of love and they all live together as one big happy family (most of the time). Elder members of the household offer wisdom and advice, parents provide unconditional love, and cousins, well cousins make great playmates. Whilst the story of Anna Hibiscus is set in Africa and introduces African customs and traditions, it is a universal celebration of love and good times with the family, something that we can all relate to.
Anna’s life is a mix of the traditional and the modern. Mobile phones, emails and other modern day conveniences blend with characters who wear traditional African dress and still do many things the “African way.” A day of office work is followed by the pounding of cassava and yam in preparation for a dinner that will be eaten with fingers. Atinuke has chosen to portray Anna living a life of privilege but there are instances where we get to witness those that are less fortunate and this is important.
The stories are complemented by line pencil drawings that delightfully show characters and African life.
Recommended for 6+.