Afuwe nearly gets eaten by an owl on his birthday!!! Naturally, he’s terrified and decides he doesn’t like being small. So when Tortoise gives him a magical birthday present which grants 5 wishes, his ultimate wish is to be the greatest animal in the jungle so he can be all powerful.
THUMBS UP AND DOWN
UP: It’s funny and action packed, 2 of my favourite ingredients in any book. Afuwe is such a lovable character and he is so relatable. Sope Martins is great with words and imagery. Afuwe’s fear when the owl chases him is so palpable. With a few words, Martins draws readers in, sucking us into Afuwe’s world so that we sweat with Afuwe in the beginning, and laugh with him at the end and she does this with less than 1000 words!
My kids love it!! B3 tries to read it every night. We laughed and laughed at Afuwe antics and I am sad because I really cannot share the joy this book gave us without putting up lots and lots of spoilers. Take it from us, this is a GREAT BOOK to give as a Christmas present!!
This book is the fourth in a chapter book series about Ancient Africa. In this book, Obi and Titi must warn Queen Kehinde that she is in imminent danger but their plans are continuously thwarted by assassins. With the help of a masked rider who turns out to be a young girl named Idia (named after Queen Idia) and her mask which helps her see a few minutes into the future, Obi and the Titi must overcome the tyrant Ezomo and a giant man-eating spider to get to the Queen.
THUMBS UP AND DOWN
UP: I struggled to find the highlights of this book because I was a bit offended by the disservice to Queen Idia. It was well-written and easy to read. It had some humourous bits and it does give a bit of insight into life in Ancient Yoruba land. It has all the makings of a good adventure series and would have been much better if it had left the African part out of it, rather than giving ambiguous information. It features a mini vocabulary list and another list of African facts.
DOWN: I struggled to get to the end of this book because I don’t know how to abandon a book halfway. I had bought this with the hope of adding to my research library on Queen Idia but I was sorely disappointed. First of all, Queen Idia was mentioned in about 8 out of 120 pages and the mask was a piece of wood with magical powers. I also feel like the facts were mixed up. Young readers will not be able to tell which bits of the story were fiction and which were nonfiction and the academic in me found that really stressful. There was a lot of telling and not enough showing but I guess I was particularly annoyed because I have a great deal of respect for Queen Idia and what the pendant mask represents and this book just basically trampled all over her. Matters came to a head when I found grammatical errors.
Taj is the most talented aki in Kos, the best sin-eater in a town where sins are murderous beasts – inisisa – that make sinners sick until they’re drawn out from their bodies by mages and eaten by akis, where sin beasts leave tattoos on the bodies of the aki and drive them to madness before they get to adulthood, where the aki are treated as outcasts in spite of the fact that people depend on them to live, where even the royals depend on the aki they despise to maintain the premium placed on purity. When Taj eats the King’s sin, he becomes involved in a sinister plot that changes his life and threatens to destroy all he holds dear.
THUMBS UP AND DOWN
UP: This book is a masterpiece. It packs a mean punch with adventure, magic, humour, tragedy, light romance, great pacing, world building and imagery, the use of sensory language, the use of Igbo 😀 , a pseudo Nigerian setting, all in one story. It is YA fantasy at its best. Compared to most books in the same genre, it is short and sweet. I got it because it came highly recommended as mentor text for a novel I’m working on. I love it because it didn’t disappoint at all. In fact, it surpassed expectations.
Tochi is gifted with writing amazing scenes. This gift is pronounced in the action scenes in the book. He uses sensory language and amazing pacing to create scenes which suck you in and make you feel like they’re unfolding right before your eyes. I cannot rave fully about this book without giving spoilers. Spoiler alert: The arashi’s appearance was nothing short of MAGNIFICENT! I had goosebumps! I put the book down, shouted, picked it up and continued reading. 😀
Then the ending, oh my God, the ending!!! It ended with a cliff hanger. He got me!
Finally, the absolute best part of all of this: There’s more to come! Crown of Thunder, the sequel is available online.
Here’s a paragraph where we’re introduced to our very first sin-beast:
I don’t even hear the doors close behind me, because the sin-beast rears up and roars in my face. I stare up at a massive lion, one of the biggest I’ve seen. The inisisa is formed of shadows so dark that it seems to suck all the light out of the room, even taking the glow from the daga in my hand. Its claws, inky tendrils of black, click against the floor tiles as it settles back on its enormous haunches. Sin made into living, breathing flesh by dark magic.
DOWN: It had a bit of the sagging middle syndrome. There was a brief lull in the story somewhere in the middle (or should I say the beginning of the middle😀 where I found myself struggling to avoid skipping whole paragraphs. I eventually understood why that section was necessary but it was much slower than the other sections of the book.
MY SUMMARY This is a book of 3 stories which feature tiny Tola who lives in the slums of Lagos with her grandmother and siblings. In all 3 stories, where she battles with power outage, lack of water, helping Abdul the tailor and going shopping at the famous Mile 12 Market, Tola shows her family and friends that even though she’s small, she’s mighty.
THUMBS UP AND DOWN UP: I absolutely absolutely loved the illustrations by Onyinye Iwu. They were the major highlight. Vibrant and apt, they complemented the story perfectly and brought the characters to life. They would have been even more wonderful if they were coloured.
The stories were delightful. I loved the fact they give readers a sneak peak into life in Lagos, especially, the hustle and bustle of daily life. I loved the reference to kerosene lanterns, battling with electricity, fetching water with jerry cans and of course, the famous Mile12 Market. I particularly liked the bit about Tola’s Grandma’s earrings which were left to her by her own grandmother (Tola’s great great grandmother). It made me smile.
One line that made me laugh was the description of one of Tola’s neighbours: ‘ … as tough as stockfish.’ 😀
DOWN: The stories were a bit flat, in the sense that they lacked ‘engaging’ conflict. Basically, the book is quite ‘putdownable’ and may not win the fight against TVs and tablets.
In a few places, the book reads like it was written by a non-Nigerian. Phrases like ‘Okada taxi’ irked me.
RATING 🌟 🌟 🌟
CHALLENGE: TOO SMALL TOLA CREATE (WRITE a Story/Poem OR DRAW)
Describe your street using all your five senses. (7 – 9 year olds)
Send your answers to email@example.com
Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 7 – 9 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, October 18th 2020.
Little Sulwe’s skin is as dark as midnight. She is the darkest member of her family and the darkest child in school. This makes her very sad. Slew desperately wants to be bright and beautiful like her sister Mich, whose skin is the colour of high noon. She wants to be light-skinned so she’ll be loved and accepted and make new friends.
So, Sulwe tries to lighten her skin. She eats bright foods, tries to rub her skin off, and even applies her mum’s makeup but nothing works. Poor Sulwe stays sad until one night, she goes on a magical journey that shows her that she’s beautiful, just the way she is.
THUMBS UP AND DOWN
UP:The art. I am a lover of Vashti Harrison’s art and as usual, she outdid herself. She brought Sulwe to life with vibrant illustrations.
I love the story-within-a-story structure. The folktale within the story adds a magical element to the story and makes it even more entertaining.
I like that there are so many teaching opportunities in this story. My kids and I had a whole discussion about the way God answers prayers; because they wanted to know why God didn’t answer Sulwe’s prayer.
I love the premise of the story. In Lupita’s words, “Sulwe holds up a mirror for dark-skinned children.” I love that Sulwe’s story deals with the universal human need to be loved and accepted while staying true to one’s self in a very child-friendly manner.
It’s a heartwarming story, it builds confidence and it’s quite entertaining. I loved every bit of it, my boys loved it too. We’ve read it countless times and we highly recommend it.
* * * * *
Sulwe is Academy Award-Winning Actress, Lupita Nyongo’s, debut children’s book.
Like Sulwe, Lupita was teased and taunted in school because of her dark skin.
Àníké wants to be a medical doctor but Iya and Aunt Remi have other plans for her, after all, in Aunt Remi’s words, “It is better for a woman to master a craft and find a good husband.”
So when Àníké decides to write the scholarship exam for a chance to pursue her dreams, she finds she has to study extra hard to get her Arithmetic right but Iya and Aunt Remi saddle her with making Aunt Remi’s wedding dress, as if selling ẹ̀kọ every morning before going to school and helping Iya at the market after school aren’t enough work already!
Read the book to find out how Àníké fared with ‘The Scholarship’.
THUMBS UP AND DOWN
UP: THE ILLUSTRATIONS were hands down the best part of the book for me. I loved them! Rich and colourful, they totally immerse the reader in Àníké’s world. They were so good that I felt like I could have ‘read’ the book just by looking at them. Ònájìn’s work really gives meaning to the line: ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’
Comics are NOT my thing, so this book was a pleasant surprise!
DOWN: Àníké was rude to her mother more than once. Hands-on-the-waist-talking-with-exclamation-marks rude! She also deceived her mother and aunt, all in a bid to study for the Scholarship exam. This behaviour went unpunished, making it look like the end always justifies the means.
One of my favorite characters didn’t make it to the cover: Àríyọ̀ the Cobbler.
Some conversation starters for your kids
“It is better for a woman to master a craft and find a good husband”
“School is more important for boys”
Àníké had to wake really early in the morning to sell ẹ̀kọ before going to school but Banjo her brother didn’t. Is that fair?
Other themes explored in the book besides Courage: Bullying, Friendship.
In this heart-warming story, Ugandan sisters Siba and Saba lose things (anything you can imagine, slippers, umbrellas, sweaters, sandals, cats!) during the day and find them in their dreams at night! One day, or rather one night, their dreams take an interesting turn … * read the book*
Dream and wake with Siba and Saba to enjoy the sights and sounds of Uganda.
THUMBS UP AND DOWN
UP: It gives readers a sneak peek into life in Uganda, from the markets and the beaches to the plants and animals, to the rich culture and a little bit of Lugandan (the language). Readers will go on a safari with the sisters, see and learn about the hustle and bustle of city of Kampala, the sandy beaches at Ssese islands, etc.
Nandi wanted Dad to stay in school with her so she wailed and wailed and wailed until Dad promised to go to school with her for a whole day. The very next day, he did just that. But things didn’t quite turn out the way Nandi hoped…
THUMBS UP AND DOWN
UP: This book was shortlisted for the 2014 Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Books, one of the best prizes for African Kid’s Lit! Perfect for every child with a love for early morning tantrums, it reminds me of the line, ‘Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it!’
Khalida’s mummy had an old red transistor radio that she played ALL the time and Khalida was tired of hearing that radio. Finally, one day, she burst out,
“Mama … Why do you listen to this radio all day? It’s very annoying!”
Her aunty gave her the weirdest answer ever. “… that radio is special … it has made many things happen, including you, Khalida”
Khalida didn’t think much of her aunt’s response until she was given an assignment in school to write a story about something unusual that happened to her.
So Khalida asked her parents how the radio made her. Read the book to find out how the red transistor radio made Khalida and how its story made her famous!
THUMBS UP AND DOWN
UP: It emphasizes the Millennium Development Goal of improving maternal health. It takes an important and very adult subject and breaks into tiny nuggets, making it easy for young readers to digest. It also does this in the most peculiar yet fun way, using the story of a radio. Young readers learn how to prevent maternal mortality and improve maternal health by making sure pregnant women frequent antenatal clinics, eat balanced diets and have their babies in hospitals.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
The subject of this story is the Millennium Development Goal of improving maternal health.