All posts by Ugo Anidi

About Ugo Anidi

I am a children’s literature enthusiast • Mad about all types of books for children. • Writer of stories for the 4-10 age group. • Mother of 2 voracious readers and 1 reluctant listener

Sneak peek of Half Hour Hara at the 2021 AKADA Children’s Book Festival

Half Hour Hara at the 2021 Akada Children’s Book Festival


I am excited to announce to you that I will be speaking at this year’s Akada Children’s Book Festival, themed “My Happy Place” holding on the 1st -3rd of July, 2021.
The Akada Children’s Book Festival (ACBF) is a fun event to showcase children’s books written by African authors, or books written by authors around the world for a diverse audience of children. Think: Bunmi Aboderin Talabi, Jude Idada, Ayo Oyeku, Yejide Kilanko, Nnenna Ochiche and more …😁 There is also a free writing workshop by accord Literary’s finest: Sarah Odedina and Deborah Ahenkorah!!


Do you know the almost best part? It’s an online event. You can join in from wherever you are on the globe and it is absolutely free. All you need to do is register at akadafestival.org


The best part, on Saturday July 3rd at 1pm, you will get a sneak peek of my book, ‘The Case of the Broken Eggs’, the first book in the Half Hour Hara series!!


See you there!”

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Juba and the Fireball

Title: Juba and the Fireball

Author: Yejide Kilanko

Publisher: Narrative Landscape Press; Ayoka Books

Number of pages: 35

Type of Book: Fiction; African

Age: 4 – 8

Available here: https://narrativelandscape.com/product/juba-and-the-fireball/ ; https://www.konga.com/product/juba-and-the-fireball-by-yejide-kilanko-5096161; https://www.amazon.co.uk/Juba-Fireball-Yejide-Kilanko/dp/1999292073 

Price: N2000, N2000; 9GBP

MY SUMMARY

‘Anger burns like fire. If you don’t control the flames, they will consume you.’

Juba has a terrible temper. He constantly gets in fights, breaks precious things and makes his mum sad. Will he learn to overcome his anger or will it consume him?

Juba and the Fireball is a warm and delightful tale about a little boy’s struggle with anger, personified as a fireball that lives in his stomach.

THUMBS UP AND DOWN

UP: I absolutely loved the illustration of the fireball. I was thrilled to pieces by the stories Juba’s dad told him and the way he told them and the relationship between his parents. Kilanko has a way with emotions. Again, as she did with “There Is An Elephant In My Wardrobe”, Kilanko breaks down a difficult emotion that many children struggle with and proposes a successful and mindful way of dealing with it. She also helps parents understand what children go through when they are consumed by anger. Her dialogue is realistic. I found myself laughing on the first page at the exchange between Juba and his mother. They could have been my son and I. J

Juba’s father is one of the highlights of this book for me. One of my favourite lines from the book was his:

“When people give us the gift of their forgiveness,

we honour it with changed behaviour”

He reminds me very much of my grandfather. He is a sage and he doles out nuggets of wisdom through proverbs and stories. This book also features the story within a story structure and several poetic devices which make it lyrical. The alliterative ‘s’ sound is a common feature throughout the book. It is definitely a must-read for children. More and more books which discuss negative emotions and how to overcome them must be made for children. Kilanko does a great service to humanity with her books.  

DOWN: None

RATING

4 stars

TRIVIA

  1. Ask your child to tell you three things they can do to calm down when they are angry. Brainstorm some good ideas: reading, exercising, counting breaths, singing, etc.

HAVE FUN WITH THIS BOOK (kinda)

  1. Help your child cope with anger: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/children-and-young-adults/advice-for-parents/help-your-child-with-anger-issues/

CHALLENGE: Juba and the Fireball

CREATE (WRITE OR DRAW)

  1. Write a short story about a time when you were ngry and how you overcame it. (100 words)

Send your answers to ugochinyelu.anidi@gmail.com

Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 4 – 8 age range. The first correct entry will be announced on this page and will win a copy of this book.

Answers must be submitted before 12:00am on Sunday, July 2nd  2021 

Next Book of the Week:

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

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photo credit: narrativelandscape press

The Secret of the Purple Lake

Title: The Secret of the Purple Lake

Author: Yaba Badoe

Publisher: Cassava Republic Press, 2017

Number of pages: 122

Type of Book: Short stories, fiction, adventure, myths and legend.

Genre: Middle Grade

Age: 8 – 12

Buy it here: The Bookworm Café; https://cassavarepublic.biz/product/the-secret-of-the-purple-lake/ ; https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Purple-Lake-Yaba-Badoe/dp/1911115316   

Price: N1800, N1500; $3.99

MY SUMMARY

The Secret of the Purple Lake is a collection of five interwoven, wildly adventurous stories set in the roaring seas and disappearing castles of Africa and Europe (think Ghana, Spain) and featuring characters with mythical origins and magical powers. It begins with the story of Ajuba, a young girl in Ghana who must undertake a perilous journey under the sea to recover her dead father’s bones and bring them home.

THUMBS UP AND DOWN

UP: This was a very exciting read for me for many reasons. First of all, I am a fan of stories with magic and adventure. Two, I had never read a short story collection quite like it. The craft element I found really appealing was the weaving together of several stories and this was not done in the form of parallel stories but using stories that happened through the span of two centuries. The major highlight was trying to discover how the stories were linked. Other highlights included the story of the fish-man, a scary creature with the body of a man and the head of a fish, Imoro the magic elephant, the walrus prince and of course, the Eagle-Queen. The characters are immediately likeable or totally despicable. I also absolutely loved the use of lyrical language.

‘Flying within the clouds is like dancing on vapour and gliding above them feels like kissing the Sun.’”

DOWN:  When I picked it up, I assumed it was a middle grade adventure (that is, one story and not a collection of stories) so when I started reading the first story, I felt cheated many times because I felt the writer was in a hurry and therefore wasted the opportunity to clearly describe things to me in a way that would make me connect more to her story. By the time I got to the end of the first story I was a bit puzzled, I felt like I had just read the outline of a middle grade adventure rather than a full-fledged short story.

RATING

🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

HAVE FUN WITH THIS BOOK

  1. Watch the author read from the book here:

CHALLENGE: The Secret of the Purple Lake

CREATE (WRITE a Story/Poem OR DRAW)

  1. Write three interwoven stories.  (500 words each)

Send your answers to ugochinyelu.anidi@gmail.com.

Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 8 – 12 age range. The first correct entry will be announced on this page and will win a copy of this book.

Answers must be submitted before 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 27th 2021.

Next Book of the Week:

JUBA AND THE FIREBALL by Yejide Kilanko

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Hello Universe

Title: Hello Universe 

Author: Erin Entrada Kelly

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Number of pages: 320

Type of Book: Fiction, adventure, drama, contemporary

Genre: Middle Grade

Age: 8 – 12

Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/Hello-Universe-Erin-Entrada-Kelly/dp/0062414151

Price: $10.49

MY SUMMARY

This heartwarming tale follows the lives of 4 very different kids with distinct loveable traits, Virgil (the shy one), Valencia (the courageous, deaf one), Kaori (the self-acclaimed psychic) and Chet (the bully). Virgil, the protagonist, is a shy, often bullied, middle grader with one fervent wish, to find the courage to talk to the girl of his dreams, Valencia. To achieve this goal, he enlists the help of another middle grader, Kaori. When Virgil sets off for his meeting with Kaori, he comes across Chet, his nemesis, and as a result, finds himself trapped in an abandoned well, deep in the woods. Faced with the horrible fate on never getting out of the well, he must reach inside himself to find the strength to overcome his fears …

THUMBS UP AND DOWN

UP: As you may have already guessed, I am not a fan of contemporary fiction but this was a delight to read. It has little bits of adventure, humour, tragedy, light romance, great pacing and suspense! I decided to read it because sometime last month, everyone in the #kidslit community was talking about it. I love it because it didn’t disappoint at all. In fact, it surpassed expectations. It was so good that I totally forgot to read as a writer until I was half way through.

I loved the use of multiple perspectives! First, the story was told from the point of view of four different characters, then 3 out of those characters had their stories told in third person while one, Valencia’s, was told in first person using the present tense. It was executed to perfection and each character’s voice was distinctive.

I absolutely loved learning about Filipino culture and folktales. I also really enjoyed the fact that the characters were strikingly diverse; there’s a Japanese-American, a Filipino-American and one with a hearing defect. In Hello Universe, Erin Entrada Kelly celebrates friendship and overcoming one’s fears. Having Virgil, Valencia and Kaori find themselves in the end was nothing short of beautiful. I love happy endings! The last line was absolutely heartwarming. I almost cried! I highly recommend this one.

Note that this book won a NEWBERY!

DOWN: It had a sagging beginning problem! The first few chapters were quite slow! It also did lean heavily towards fate and the powers of the universe and Ouija boards and the like. Not my cup of tea.  

RATING

🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

HAVE FUN WITH THIS BOOK

  1. Read an excerpt here: https://preview.aer.io/Hello_Universe-MjQwMDQ=?social=0&retail=0&emailcap=0

CHALLENGE: Hello Universe 

CREATE (WRITE a Story/Poem OR DRAW)

  1. Read the excerpt using the link above, then write your own ending. (500 words)

Send your answers to ugochinyelu.anidi@gmail.com.

Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 8 – 12 age range. The first correct entry will be announced on this page and will win a copy of this book.

Answers must be submitted before 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 13th 2021.

Next Book of the Week:

THE SECRET OF THE PURPLE LAKE by Yaba Badoe

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photo credit: Amazon

Akuko Baibulu Nso Maka Umuntakiri/Umuaka

Title: Akuko Baibulu Nso Maka Umuntakiri/Umuaka

Author: Ezinwanne Christiana Az’fredrick Mbanu (PhD)

Publisher:  Supreme Publishers

Number of pages: 226

Type of Book: Non-fiction, Christian, Middle Grade, African.

Age: 8+

Buy it here: https://www.facebook.com/AkukoBaibulUmuaka/

Price: N3,000

MY SUMMARY

This a delightful book of bible stories for children 8 years above. It has a good mix of old testament and new testament stories (from David and Esther to Saints Peter and Paul) as well as memory verses and short prayers that children can take on easily. The best part, it’s ALL IN IGBO!!  Perfect for bedtime stories, it can also be read to younger children.

THUMBS UP AND DOWN

UP: I’ve never seen a book like this in Igbo. There are a thousand and one English bible study books for kids but an Igbo one, this was definitely a first for me! I absolutely loved the memory verses! The text is lyrical (if you are a fan of Igbo language, you’ll love this) (I am a HUGE fan so this was a joy to read). There is a good blend of popular and not-so-popular bible stories. This is perfect for bible club teachers and parents who want to teach their little angels to love God in our mother tongue. The icing on the cake, it comes with a CD! I’ll leave you to guess what’s on it!!  

DOWN: There were a few grammatical errors and the layout wasn’t exactly visually appealing but the content more than makes up for the errors.

RATING

🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

HAVE FUN WITH THIS BOOK

  1. Play the CD.

CHALLENGE: Akuko Baibulu Nso Maka Umuntakiri/Umuaka

CREATE (WRITE a Story/Poem OR DRAW)

  1. Tell your favourite bible story using ONLY 10 pictures and 10 memory verses.  

Send your answers to ugochinyelu.anidi@gmail.com.

Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 8+ age range. The first correct entry will be announced on this page and will win a copy of this book.

Answers must be submitted before 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, February 28th 2021.

Next Book of the Week:

ECHO by Pam Munoz Ryan

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NB: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Holes

Title: Holes

Author: Louis Sachar

Publisher:  Bloomsbury Publishing

Number of pages: 233 

Type of Book: Middle Grade, Fairytale, Folktale, Adventure, Mystery. 

Age: 10+

Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/Holes-Louis-Sachar/dp/0440414806/ref=pd_sbs_1?pd_rd_w=T5aro&pf_rd_p=965b754e-4670-4322-863d-d4929773ec49&pf_rd_r=KGQV70T7HK8VM5JYXH37&pd_rd_r=17b1b8b7-2dcc-45ab-8e21-fe1cfd2bfdb0&pd_rd_wg=HdnfV&pd_rd_i=0440414806&psc=1 and @thebookwormcafeng on Instagram.

Price: $ 8.49 or N3000

MY SUMMARY

Stanley Yelnats and all his family members have bad luck, it is so bad that Stanley ends up in a juvenile detention centre in the middle of the desert for a crime he didn’t commit. At Camp Green, he must dig holes every day under the hot sun: back-breaking and totally boring stuff until he finds a tube of lipstick in one of his holes and then he goes after a runaway. Then, the adventure begins. The author goes back and forth between three stories: Stanley’s story, a fairytale and a folktale, spinning a thrilling, humorous and powerful story about friendship, crime and punishment.

THUMBS UP AND DOWN

UP: I enjoyed this book as a reader and a writer! The reader in me LOVED the parallel stories; one contemporary, one fairy tale and one folk tale, each with its own fair share of excitement, adventure and suspense. The deadly yellow-spotted lizard, “Kissing Kate” the outlaw, the search for the treasure, and the warden (this woman slapped someone with a snake’s venom) were some of the highlights of the book. This book is a must read for children and adults alike!!

For Ugo, the writer, the highlight was the parallel structure and how all three stories tied up neatly in the end. Just wondering how they were connected and trying to figure it out added to the mystery of the book. Sachar is a wonderful writer with the power to thrill with words. The blend of fairy tale, fantasy, adventure, mystery, humour, folktale and realism in on package is mind-blowing. It is a great mentor text for parallel narratives.   

DOWN: Nada …

RATING

🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

HAVE FUN WITH THIS BOOK

  1. Read an excerpt here: https://www.npr.org/books/titles/204896601/holes 

CHALLENGE: Holes

CREATE (WRITE a Story/Poem OR DRAW)

  1. Write a 1,000-word story with 2 parallel stories.

Send your answers to ugochinyelu.anidi@gmail.com.

Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 10 – 12 age range. The first correct entry will be announced on this page and will win a copy of this book.

Answers must be submitted before 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, February 7th 2021.

Next Book of the Week:

MEANWHILE BACK AT THE RANCH by Trinka Hakes Noble

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Dada Ade and the Good Hair Fairy

Title: Dada Ade and the Good Hair Fairy

Author: Venessa Scholtz

Publisher:  Farafina Tuuti

Number of pages: 24

Type of Book: Picture Book, African, African Folktales.

Age: 4 – 8

Buy it here: https://farafinabooks.com/book?b=2074; @thebookwormcafeng on Instagram.

Price: N1,000

MY SUMMARY

In this book by the 2016 Golden Baobab picture book award-winner Venessa Scholtz, the reader embarks on a journey with young Dada Ade who doesn’t like her kinky, curly, crimped, wild and unruly hair. Wanting to exchange her hair for something better, Dada Ade sets out to find the Good Hair Fairy. On her way, she meets several animals who offer her their ‘hair’: the furry cat, the feathered duck, the scaly chameleon. But the best part of the story comes when Dada Ade finally meets the Good Hair Fairy. Read the story to find out the grand surprise at the end.

THUMBS UP AND DOWN

UP: Told in a manner reminiscent of the folktales I heard as a child, this made me smile. My boys and I loved it. The text is lyrical and makes for a great read-aloud. The story is fun and educational; readers learn about different types of animal body coverings/hair. Alaba Onajin again provides vibrant illustrations which make an already good book even better. The icing on the cake is the surprise at the end of the book plus the lesson.  

DOWN: None

RATING

🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

HAVE FUN WITH THIS BOOK

  1. Learn about hair, fur, feathers and scales here: https://mothernatured.com/animal-exploration/fur-feather-and-scales-a-cover-up/

CHALLENGE: Dada Ade and the Good Hair Fairy

CREATE (WRITE a Story/Poem OR DRAW)

  1. Draw and colour 4 creatures, 1 of which must have hair, feather, fur or scales.

4 – 6 year olds

  • Make a list of 15 animals, 5 of which must have fur, scales or feathers.

7 – 8 year olds

Send your answers to ugochinyelu.anidi@gmail.com.

Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 4 – 8 age range. The first correct entry will be announced on this page and will win a copy of this book.

Answers must be submitted before 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, January 31st 2021.

Next Book of the Week:

HOLES by Louis Sachar

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Tristan Strong Punches a Hole In The Sky

Title: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in The Sky

Author: Kwame Mbalia

Publisher:  Rick Riordan Presents

Number of pages: 528

Type of Book: Middle Grade, African, African Folktales, African American, Mythology.

Age: 8 – 12

Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/Tristan-Strong-Punches-Hole-Novel/dp/1368042414/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Price: $ 8.99

MY SUMMARY

Seventh grader Tristan Strong is down in the dumps. He has just lost his best friend as well as his very first boxing match. His parents send him off to Alabama to spend a month with his grandparents to cool off. There, he literally punches a hole in the sky and falls through earth into another dimension and the adventure of a lifetime!

THUMBS UP AND DOWN

UP: The world building, the setting and the characters particularly, the folktale heroes, Anansi!!!!, the 10” tall doll baby Gum Baby, the iron monsters, the haunted bone ships and the burning sea! I loved them! It’s an adventure story with some of my favourite Ms: magic and mythology. The specificity Mbalia uses to describe the setting is out of this world! The worldbuilding was extraordinary and I feel like this book is a good mentor text for writers on the subject of setting.

DOWN: A lot of description slowed the action down. Because life is what it is, the actual highlight of the novel was also its undoing. Oh my!!! The description was just too much. I feel like I was buried under a mountain of details. I have been trying to read this book for 8 weeks but I still haven’t made it halfway. It is unbelievably putdownable, in fact, 1 of 2 things happens each time I pick it up: I come up with something more interesting to do or I fall asleep. In summary, I still haven’t finished reading it but at this point, I honestly cannot. go. on. This will be the first time I am consciously abandoning a book halfway, I am sad and I really struggled to avoid this but …

RATING

🌟 🌟 🌟

HAVE FUN WITH THIS BOOK

  1. Read an excerpt (Chapter 1) here: https://www.readriordan.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Tristan-Strong-Hole-in-Sky_pp1-33.pdf

CHALLENGE: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in The Sky

CREATE (WRITE a Story/Poem OR DRAW)

  1. Write a 300-word essay on any African God.

Send your answers to ugochinyelu.anidi@gmail.com.

Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 8 – 12 age range. The first correct entry will be announced on this page and will win a copy of this book.*

Answers must be submitted before 11:59 p.m. on Friday, January 15th 2021.

Next Book of the Week:

DADA ADE AND THE GOOD HAIR FAIRY by Vennessa Scholtz

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*open to US residents only

Storystorm 2021 Registration is OPEN!

Story storm 2021!!! Yippee!!

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

Every year when Storystorm rolls around, I like to pick a theme for this registration post.

This year’s theme will come as no surprise…

WE FINALLY MADE IT THROUGH 2020!

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Welcome to STORYSTORM 2021!

Four years ago I changed the name and month of my annual writing challenge, from Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) to STORYSTORM. Why? Answer’s here.

Although this challenge begun as a picture book writer’s event, any writer interested in brainstorming new story ideas in January is invited to join the STORYSTORM challenge of 30 ideas in 31 days. Any genre, any style; student, amateur, hobbyist, aspiring author or seasoned professional.

How does STORYSTORM work? It’s simple…

  • Register.
  • Read the daily posts on this blog, beginning January 1st.
  • Write down one (or more) story idea daily.
  • At the end of January if you have at least 30 new…

View original post 370 more words

Idia of the Benin Kingdom

Title: Idia of the Benin Kingdom

Author: Ekiuwa Aire; Illustrator: Alina Shabelnyk

Publisher: Our Ancestories

Number of pages: 40

Type of Book: Picture book, Fiction with elements of Non-Fiction

Age: 4 – 8

Buy it here: ;  https://our-ancestories.com/product/idia-of-the-benin-kingdom-childrens-book/ ; https://www.amazon.com/Idia-Benin-Kingdom-Ekiuwa-Aire/dp/1777117925/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Price: $17.99; $13.99

MY SUMMARY

Idia was an ordinary little girl who had an extraordinary dream about a brave female warrior with magical healing powers. Curious, she begged her father to teach her how to be a warrior and her mother to teach her the art of magic and medicine. Little did she know that she would become the brave warrior in her dream as well as the first Queen mother of the ancient Benin Kingdom. Read this story of perseverance and courage to learn about the history of one of Africa’s most illustrious queens.  

THUMBS UP AND DOWN

UP: I have read quite a bit on Queen Idia as I mentioned in an earlier post but I have never read a book about her childhood so I absolutely loved this one. The author used sprinkles of rhyme and repetition and lots of lyrical language to make this picture book a great read. Blending fact and fiction, she described the life – particularly the childhood – of Queen Idia with some detail and quite a bit of flair.  

One of my favourite paragraphs:

People buzzed with excitement in the center of the village. The Oba (King) was there. Hands slapped drums. Fires were started to cook the feast. Idia adjusted her beads and greeted all her friends.

The illustrations blew my mind. They are vibrant, detailed, apt, evocative and sublimely different from the norm, they truly gave life to the words and made the book shine!

I also loved the use of Edo words. The icing on the cake was the historical factsheet at the end of the book. I loved everything about this book and I would highly recommend it for lovers of Edo culture and their children. 😀

DOWN: None.

RATING

🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

HAVE FUN WITH THIS BOOK

  1. Read it for free via Kindle Unlimited.
  2. Register with http://eepurl.com/g8iB-D to receive a free digital copy of the Idia of the Benin Kingdom coloring and book.
  3. Watch a video trailer here:
  1. For more information about the book, visit https://our-ancestories.com/product/idia-of-the-benin-kingdom-childrens-book/

CHALLENGE: Idia of the Benin Kingdom

CREATE (WRITE a Story/Poem OR DRAW)

  1. Draw a warrior queen (4 – 6 year olds)
  2. Find four words which can be used to describe Idia in the crossword puzzle below (7 – 8 year olds)
QUEENMOTHERDX
VNOHGONDSAMAO
KSARESBENGENN
HBGRAYWKBLUCN
IHEALERTIONET
ODSJAAGKNRSRS
OCNKLEWALKSNA
LXSWARRIORPLF

Send your answers to ugochinyelu.anidi@gmail.com.

Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 4 – 8 age range. The first correct entry will be announced on this page and will win a copy of this book.

Answers must be submitted before 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, December 13th 2020.

Next Book of the Week:

TRISTAN STRONG PUNCHES A HOLE IN THE SKY by Kwame Mbalia

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photo credit: amazon.com