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!!
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.
It starts with a quest, because all books with elements of magic, mystery and mythology must have quests.
Zelie, her brother and their enemy-turned-friend, princess Amari go on a quest to bring magic back to Orïsha. Amari’s father, the tyrannical King of Orïsha, believes that magic is the source of all evil so he banishes magic. He destroys all the relics and temples of the gods and kills all the magi leaving the diviners. The diviners are children of magi who haven’t become magi and therefore have no magical powers. Years later, a scroll appears which awakens the magic in diviners.
The quest: Zelie and her crew must find and take three sacred items – the scroll, a dagger and a sunstone – to a sacred (disappearing) island that appears only during the summer solstice. There, they must recite the incantations on the scroll in the temple of the gods during the solstice or lose the chance to bring back magic to Orïsha forever.
THUMBS UP AND DOWN
UP: Everything! I loved absolutely everything about this book: the writing style, the imagery, the characters, the actual story, the world building, everything. I loved reading it, I know I’ll read it again, and I can’t wait to read Book 2 (it’s a trilogy by the way)!
It’s a masterpiece. What I loved about it?
A. West African Mythology. I loved reading Britannica as a child because it showed me the myths and legends of different parts of the world, Roman and Greek ones, etc. This book was my first foray into West African Mythology especially the Orïsha, so it hit all the right buttons! I loved learning about the gods of Yoruba mythology: Ori, Oya, Sango, Yemoja, Ogun! I loved it so much that I now want to do a course on West African Mythology because I want to learn and write about Igbo gods too. I loved the fact that it was set in Nigeria and i loved the use of a lot of Yoruba (which I can’t understand by the way).
B. The highlight of the book for me: The Setting!! The World building: the ten Maji clans and their different powers and deities; the animals (the leoponaries and panthernaires); Ibeji, the desert city, where the slaves fight to the death for the pleasure of nobles in an arena the size of the Roman Colosseum filled with (wait for it) water! Note that water typically goes for one gold piece per cup, a small fortune for the inhabitants of the city. Imagining Chândomblé, the lost temple of the sacred sentaros, the protectors of magic, almost brought tears to my eyes. Did I mention that I am a lover of medieval movies? I am. So it was so easy to imagine every little scene in this book.
C. The characters are relatable. The most fulfilling emotional arc was Amari’s. She went from a timid, scared-of-her-own-shadow little princess to an amazon at the end.
One thing is sure, Adeyemi is a wonderful storyteller and she had me enthralled from the first page until I finished the book, five days later. (This kids-at-home business won’t let me shine)
Here’s when we first get a taste of the power of magic in the hands of diviners.
Though Binta resists, Kaea pushes the scroll into her grip.
Light explodes from Binta’s hand.
It coats the throne room in its magnificence—brilliant golds, shining purples, sparkling blues. The light arcs and shimmers as it cascades, a never-ending stream erupting from Binta’s palm.
“Skies,” I gasp, terror at war with the awe bubbling inside my chest.
If I had to distil the highlights into three words, they would be Mythology, Magic, Medieval.
I strongly strongly recommend this book to everyone particularly lovers of history, mythology, and Nnedi Okoroafor’s books.
Note that this is a multiple award winning book and a New York Times Bestseller.
The story is phenomenal. It is an epic. Definitely my best book of this year.
DOWN: The only down (which wasn’t that serious really) was the fact that it was a bit hard to differentiate between the voices of the two female characters (i.e. Zelie and Amari). Many times, they basically sounded the same.
Dear Pint-sized Bookworms (and their mummies, daddies, aunties, uncles and teachers),
It’s a brand new week and a brand spanking new season with lots of good news. Let’s start with these …
Ready! Steady! GO!!! We’re resuming in full force after our much needed and quite fruitful six-month break!! We will be working with our usual blog schedule: news/events on Mondays, book reviews on Tuesdays (8-12), Thursdays (0-4) and Saturdays (4-8) and Literary rambles on Fridays. Please see our blog schedule here. It’s good to be back and we’ve got some really good books lined up for the rest of the year. Stay tuned!!
Two Nigerians recognized in the Golden Baobab Prize for Children’s Literature
The Golden Baobab Prize is only the most prestigious prize for children’s literature in Africa. It is open to all writers for children of African origin with manuscripts featuring an African setting. Set up in three categories, it awards the prize of $5,000 each (as well as publishing contracts) to the best unpublished picture book manuscript, early chapter book manuscript and illustration entered into the competition. This year, two Nigerians made us proud! Ayodele Moses Oyeku was shortlisted for the prize for early chapter books while Chidinma J. Nnamani was longlisted also for the prize for early chapter books. See the winners, shortlist and longlist here. In 2014, a Nigerian, Mary Ononokpono, a Nigerian, won the Early Chapter Book prize. See here. More information on the Golden Baobab prize can be found here.
We congratulate them heartily and look forward to reading their books next year!!
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