Tag Archives: Nigerian Children’s Book Review

30 TIPS for Writing Delightful Children’s Books Day 4


What is the difference between a book that stays on the Bestseller list for years and the one that is dumped after the first three chapters? What is the difference between the book that keeps you up all night, flipping the pages, when you have 1001 things to do and the one that you need to be bribed to read? What is the difference between the truly memorable and unputdownable books and the bleh ones?

5 elements!!!

Like a good pot of soup, every story needs some essential ingredients (elements) to create a memorable sensory feast for the consumer. Can you imagine making tomato stew without tomatoes? 😊 In the same way, you cannot create a good story without these elements.

Here they are: The five MUST-HAVE elements of a good story.
Character: Every good story must have a character or characters. These are the persons, animals, creatures or things who perform the action in the story. Our stories revolve around them. There are two main types: the main character(s) (the protagonist) and the supporting character(s) (secondary and tertiary characters). You can have multiple main and supporting characters. 

Plot: In simple terms: What happens in your story? The plot is the series of related actions that make up your story. What happens to the characters in your story? What do they do?

Setting: Three things to consider: Place, Period and Mood. Place: Is your story set in Nigeria, Japan, your village? Earth, Mars, an imaginary world? What about the period: 2000 years BC, 3014 AD, the 16th century? Some place where time means nothing? Mood: Is the atmosphere ominous? dark? hopeful? peaceful? tense?

Theme: This is the heart of your story. The story itself. Often the reason why readers will love your book and return to it over and over again. What universal truth does your story proclaim? Love conquers all? One good turn deserves another? Unity in diversity?

Point of View (POV): Who is telling the story? A narrator? The main character? The main character and several supporting characters? Or wait for it!! The narrator, the main character and the supporting characters? How is this person telling the story? Are they talking to themselves? Talking to another character? Telling a story or talking directly to the reader? There are 3 types of POV: First, Second and Third person point of view.

Other important elements:

Humour: Is your story humourous? If yes, what type: dark? satirical? ironic? hyperbolic? Juvenile? The Magnificent Mya Tibbs by Crystal Allen
Literary Devices: Do you employ literary devices to make your words sing or to make your story lyrical? The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
Scenes: Are the scenes in your story action packed? Do they have a clear goal and a beginning, middle and end? Love, Sophia on the Moon by Anica Rissi
Poetry: Is your story in verse: that is, structured like a poem? Is it free verse or does it rhyme? Star Fish by Lisa Fipps
Structure: What is the layout of your story? Does it use the rule of threes? Is it a parallel story featuring 2 stories playing out at the same time? Meanwhile Back at the Ranch by Trinka Noble. Does it feature the 3 or 4 act structure? Or the hero’s journey? Is it an epistolary? Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School by Mark Teague

1. Action: Identify these 5 elements in the books you love

Is there a book you have read more than once? Yes? That’s the one you need. 😊 
a.	Identify the 5 elements in this book
b.      Figure out how the author used these elements to make this book memorable.

2. Read.
Here are some of my favourites:
For characters: Children of Blood and Bone (YA) by Tomi Adeyemi: Prince Inan and Amari and The Junie B Jones Series (CB) by Barbara Parks: Junie B Jones.
Note that books with memorable characters will most likely be part of a series. Memorable characters form the backbone of most series. 

For setting: Zahrah the Windseeker (MG) by Nnedi Okoroafor and Amari and the Night Brothers (MG) by B. B. Alston; Tristan Strong Punches A Hole in the Sky (MG) by Kwame Mbalia

For Theme: How To Find What You’re Not Looking For (MG) by Veera Hiranandani and Echo (MG) by Pam Munoz Ryan

For POV: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (PB) by Mo Willems and Hello Universe (MG) by Erin Entrada Kelly

For Plot: Holes (MG) by Louis Sachar and All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team (MG Nonfiction) by Christina Soontornvat

Some of these books ticked multiple boxes for me. 

Want to write a story for children, don’t know where to start? Tell me all about it and we can figure out the theme and some mentor texts for you! 

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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


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.  


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.


🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟


  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


  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)

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:


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photo credit: amazon.com

Beasts Made of Night

Title: Beasts Made of Night

Author: Tochi Onyebuchi

Publisher:  Razorbill

Number of pages: 295

Type of Book: Fiction, adventure, fantasy

Genre: Young Adult

Age: 13+

Buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/Beasts-Made-Night-Tochi-Onyebuchi/dp/0448493918/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Price: $9.99


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.


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.


⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️


  1. Read an excerpt here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/545186/beasts-made-of-night-by-tochi-onyebuchi/9780448493916/excerpt

CHALLENGE: Beasts Made of Night 


  1. Read the excerpt using the link above, then read the excerpt of Children of Blood and Bone in this post and compare the literary devices used by both writers.

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

Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 13+ 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, November 22nd 2020.

Next Book of the Week:


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Jack and the Beanstalk









Title: Jack and the Beanstalk

Author: Retold by Vera Southgate

Publisher: Ladybird/Ladybird Tales

Number of pages: 10/47

Type of Book: Fiction; Fairytale

Age: 0 – 4

Available here: http://www.learnington-ng.com/literature/220-jack-and-the-beanstalk-a-touch-and-feel-book-.html; https://www.laternabooks.com/laterna_product_details.php?v=12878&c=111; https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jack-Beanstalk-Ladybird-Touch-Fairy/dp/1409304515; Free Download here: https://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/sites/kids/files/attachment/stories-jack-and-the-beanstalk-transcript-final-2012-09-21.pdf

Price: N1000; N650; 2.80GBP


Jack, a poor little boy lived with his mother on a farm. One day, his mother sent him to the market to sell their most prized possession, a cow. Jack however, traded the cow for some bean seeds. His poor mother, angry at the boy, threw the beans out the widow and sent the boy to sleep. The following morning, a beanstalk that reached far into the sky had grown right outside the window. Jack climbed up the stalk into the sky to find a beautiful castle in the clouds, a golden goose that laid golden eggs and a harp that played itself. Read the story to find out what happened when the owner of the castle, a giant, caught Jack trying to run away with his prized possessions.

One of the most popular lines from the story is the giant’s, “Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum!”


UP: This is a great introduction to the world of fairytales. Jack’s story is a great adventure story that all kids will love. It’s a board book so it’s sturdy and will survive bites, spills and dunks in water. I recommend this book for all kids aged 0 to 4! Older kids can read this too.

DOWN: None


4.5 Stars.


  1. This story was first told over 5,000 years ago.


  1. Read the story here: https://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/sites/kids/files/attachment/stories-jack-and-the-beanstalk-transcript-final-2012-09-21.pdf
  2. Listen to the story here: http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/short-stories/jack-and-the-beanstalk
  3. Read the play here: http://www.grandviewlibrary.org/ReadersTheater/JackBeanstalk/JackBeanStalk.pdf
  4. Activities here: http://www.penguinreaders.com/pdf/downloads/pyr/factsheets/9780582428591.pdf
  5. Watch a video here:



  1. Draw and colour the picture of the beanstalk on the cover of the book (4 year olds)


  1. Identify and colour Jack (2-3 year olds)


Send your answers to ugochinyelu.anidi@gmail.com

Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 2 – 4 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 Tuesday, June 8th 2016.

Next Book of the Week:

THE LITTLE BLUE COW by Thecla Ojeifo


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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Title: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Author: William Shakespeare

Publisher: Usborne Publishing

Number of pages: 64

Type of Book: Fiction, Classic, Play

Age: 4 – 8

Buy it here: http://product.chelisbookazine.com/product/a-midsummer-nights-dream-young-reading-series-2/; https://www.amazon.co.uk/Midsummer-Nights-Dream-Usborne-readers/dp/0746063334/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464543391&sr=1-2&keywords=a+midsummer+nights+dream+usborne;  Free Download here: http://shakespeare.mit.edu/midsummer/full.html

Price: N580; 4.99GBP


This play has four interconnecting plots/stories.

  1. The Duke of Athens, Theseus is about to marry the Amazon Queen, Hippolyta whom he has just conquered in battle. He orders four days of festivities to celebrate his impending marriage.
  2. Hermia, daughter of Egeus, an Athenian, refuses to marry Demetrius (against her father’s wishes) because she loves Lysander. Egeus asks the Duke to sentence her to death, based on an ancient Athenian law that requires a daughter to marry a suitor approved by her father or face death. Meanwhile, Helena, Hermia’s friend loves Demetrius. So basically, Helena loves Demetrius who loves Hermia who loves Lysander (Yes, Shakespeare has a thing for love triangles, rectangles and all)
  3. Oberon, the King of Fairies wants to take his wife Titania’s ward as a page but Titania refuses. Angry, he puts a magic potion (juice from a flower) on her eyes to make her fall in love with the first creature she sees when she wakes up. His plan: watch her fall in love with an animal in the forest and then shame her into giving him the young boy.
  4. A group of actors, the Mechanicals, is contracted to perform a play during the Duke’s wedding however, they do not know the first thing about acting so they retire to the forest to practice.

The play is set in the enchanted forest. After the Duke Theseus rules that Hermia must marry Demetrius, face death or become a nun, she decides to elope with Lysander and they find their way to the enchanted forest. Helena learns of this plan and tells Demetrius who gives chase. Helena in turn runs after Demetrius. Oberon spies Helena running after Demetrius and feeling pity for her decides to give Demetrius the magic juice from the flower to make him fall in love with Helena. He enlists the help of Puck a mischievous fairy who mistakenly puts the juice on Lysander’s eyes. Lysander wakes up to see Helena and promptly falls in love with her. An enraged Oberon attempts to correct Puck’s mistake, so the juice is administered on Demetrius who also falls in love with Helena. Of course chaos erupts as suddenly both men who entered the forest loving Hermia now love Helena. Meanwhile, the same mischievous Puck, turns the head of one of the Mechanicals, Bottom, into a donkey’s head causing his fellow actors to abandon him. Queen Titania, wakes up after the juice has been spread over her eyes and falls in love with Bottom. J

Read the story to find out how all fours stories/plots were resolved.


UP: Humour! Puck, the mischievous, was the major highlight. He made this book fun and made me laugh out loud a couple of times. Watch out especially for the part where Queen Titania wakes up and starts professing undying love to Bottom, the donkey-headed man! I loved this story a lot as a child (even though it took a while for me to GET it!) This book however, is much better than the one I read as a child. It is easy to read and not as long.

DOWN: It may be a tad confusing for 4-6 year olds because of the interconnecting plots plus the fact that the play seems to be riddled with characters.


4 Stars


  1. This play is one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays


  1. Read the story here (the original version): http://shakespeare.mit.edu/midsummer/full.html
  2. Visit William Shakespeare here: http://www.shakespeare-online.com

CHALLENGE: A Midsummer Night’s Dream


1. Read the information above, then answer the following questions (6-8 year olds)

  • This little person caused a lot of trouble in this story?
  • Is there a play-within-a play in this story?
  • Who is Oberon?


2. Draw and colour a man with a donkey’s head (4-5 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 12:00am on Thursday, June 2nd 2015.

Next Book of the Week:

MY NIGERIA: People, Places and Culture by Constance Omowumi Kola-Lawal







Dear Pint-sized Bookworms (and their mummies, daddies, aunties, uncles and teachers),

A few days ago, a friend called me ‘Super Mom’. Those words sparked off a lot of thoughts in my small head. Of all the thoughts, 1 stuck: I have definitely bitten off more than I can chew.

  • I have a blog that needs to be fed at least 3 posts every week
  • I have to read 3 books every week in order to feed the blog
  • I have 2 boys under 2 and no help
  • I am in the 2nd year of my PhD (in Law)
  • I am working on 2 manuscripts: 2 early chapter books and I have a July deadline
  • Our reading club will kick off May 27th (in 2 weeks) in 3 schools with a minimum of 60 pupils

Suffice it to say that according to a popular Igbo idiom, I have slowly but surely stuffed my hands and feet in my mouth at the same time. I am definitely not ‘Super Mom’. If anything, I’m ‘Exhausted Mom’.

So dear Pint-sized Bookworms, this is the part where this Busy Bee yells, “THERE ARE GONNA BE SOME CHANGES AROUND HERE!!”

Since I’m not the smartest person in the world (you’ll come to understand why I said this in a few seconds), I have decided to add 2 more posts every week! (You see!). Basically, I’m trying to enrich your reading experience by putting up some more interesting stuff.

So our blog schedule will be tweaked a little. Every week, expect the following:

Mondays: Love Books! Anything in the world of Children’s Books: tips on reading with children, book reading events, news from our reading club, top libraries and bookstores for children’s books, etc.

Tuesdays: Book Reviews for 8-12 year olds

Thursdays: Book Reviews for 0-4 year olds

Fridays: Stories from Me! At least 500 words from my manuscript.

Saturdays: Book Reviews for 4-8 year olds

Thank you for your patience and understanding,

Happy Reading !!





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A Pre-School Alphabet Book and A Treasury of African Names

IMG_6039Title: A Pre-School Alphabet Book and A Treasury of African Names

Author: Noma Sodipo

Publisher: Swan Publishing

Number of pages: 63

Type of Book: African; Fiction; Educational

Age: 2 – 7

Available here: www.preschoolalphabetandafricannames.com; Swan Publishing: 7th floor, 27/29 King George V Road, Onikan, Lagos; TerraKulture: Tiamiyu Savage, Victoria Island, Lagos

Price: N1500


My first thought was “Not another ABC book”, but this is an ABC book with a difference. It features the expected – Ants, Balls, Cats, etc. – but it goes many steps further to include colourful illustrations; common plants, animals and food found in Africa; colours; a question on every page and a full glossary of African names with their pronunciation, origin and meaning. It’s the perfect ABC book for the African child!


UP: I LOOOOOVVVEEEEE this book!!!!! (ESP because good quality African books for preschoolers are hard to find AND (Icing on the cake!!!) this one was written by a Nigerian!) This is easily one of the best books I have read this year and I have read it to my 2-year-old too! It is filled with vibrantly coloured illustrations and it features sights and sounds of 21st Century Africa. I recommend this book for kids aged 2 to 7 especially kids (African and non-African) who would like to learn about Africa. Parents can read this book to their toddlers and beginning readers can read it on their own.

DOWN: None!!!


5 Stars. If I could, I’d give this more than 5 stars.


  1. Noma Sodipo, the author, also produces the television programme ‘Storytime with Auntie Noma’ which is aired in over thirty countries in the world! 


CHALLENGE: A Pre-School Alphabet Book and A Treasury of African Names


  • Draw and name 10 animals found in Nigeria using the first 10 letters of the alphabet?

e.g. A – Antelope, B – Bat, C – Chicken (these examples can not be submitted as answers (6-7 year olds)


  • Draw and colour 4 (four) animals found in Nigerian homes (4-5 year olds)


  • Identify and colour the dog (2-3 year olds)

Send your answers to ugochinyelu.anidi@gmail.com

Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 2 – 7 age range. The first two correct entries will be announced on this page and will win a copy of this book.

Answers must be submitted before 12:00am on Tuesday, April 19th 2015.

Next Book of the Week:




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