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!!
‘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.
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.
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.
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HAVE FUN WITH THIS BOOK
Play the CD.
CHALLENGE: Akuko Baibulu Nso Maka Umuntakiri/Umuaka
CREATE (WRITE a Story/Poem OR DRAW)
Tell your favourite bible story using ONLY 10 pictures and 10 memory verses.
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. 😀
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HAVE FUN WITH THIS BOOK
Read it for free via Kindle Unlimited.
Register with http://eepurl.com/g8iB-D to receive a free digital copy of the Idia of the Benin Kingdom coloring and book.
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 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.