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!!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.