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 is a book of Nigerian folktales but it’s not just another book of folktales. These folktales are told by a 6-month old baby who gets them as bedtime stories from her mother. Yetunde is not the average 6-month old. She is a precocious 6-month old Yoruba baby living with her mummy in London and this book is her diary. Each chapter begins with a narration of a day in Yetunde’s life and ends with a folktale. Her unique perspective on daily adult activities is amusing and thought-provoking at the same time. The folktales are the icing on the cake. The book has five chapters with five stories each, some of which many moms will remember.
Read the book to find out how tortoise broke its shell, how it used a drum to create a feast for its village, how he tried to become the wisest animal in the world, etc.
Read it to take a trip down memory lane and give it to your child to read to learn a thing or two about Nigerian folktales and how they’re told. Of course, the chief protagonist in every Nigerian folktale (Tortoise) is present and in grand style too! A good read for every member of the family.
THUMBS UP AND DOWN
UP: This book made me smile. I remembered the first time I heard the story ‘How Tortoise broke its shell’ and how hard I laughed at the birds until they took their feathers from Tortoise. If you heard a lot of folktales as a child, you definitely heard this one. This folktale made the rounds.
The book also made me think of the fact that my kids really need to hear our Nigerian folktales. Sometimes, we’re so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that we forget to pass some of these wonderful things that were a natural part of our lives to our children.
The use of Yoruba was wonderful. This was one of the major highlights! I love reading books in indigenous Nigerian languages. We don’t have enough of those!!!!
Baby Yetunde’s diary sets this book apart from other folktales and gives it a certain quirkiness that I like.
For non-Nigerians, it shows a lot of the Nigerian culture, especially for modern day Nigerians. There’s a little bit on music, (reference to Lagbaja and Flavour), food (fried plantains and chicken stew), the folktales (of course) and the language. For Nigerians, we’ll see a lot of ourselves in the lives of Yetunde and her mum.
The illustrations though sparse were exquisite!!!
One of my favorite sentences: “Mama can go from a trendy professional Londoner to Iya Alata (a pepper seller) in 0 to 10 seconds. She’s hardcore like that.” The sentence before that was hilarious! I laughed until I cried.
DOWN: There were some minor downs. There was a bit of Nigerian English here and there, the use of a swear word and some other words that would likely make my kids ask me questions I may not want to answer. I believe it was a reference to a mother’s breasts going south, something I totally understood and found funny but will not be in a hurry to explain to a child. The text wasn’t justified so it made reading visually annoying for me. The addition of the Yoruba language was a plus and a minus. As much as I love the idea of writing in our native language, the inability to understand the language was a mini-downer for me as in some cases, there were whole blocks of text in Yoruba and no immediate translation. Fortunately, the translations were added in the last section of the book so the reader isn’t left hanging.
All in all, it was a good read. I would recommend to anyone who loves the idea of Nigerian folktales with a twist!
Story 1: How did Tortoise outsmart the birds? By taking on a new name: All of You
Story 2: Why did the scorpion sting the frog in spite of the fact that he knew that this would make them drown? Because it’s in his nature to sting.
Story 3: Oluronbi made a promise she couldn’t keep. What was it? She promised to give the spirit that lived in the Iroko tree her first child.
Story 4: Why did Tortoise want to be the wisest animal in the world? He wanted other animals to come to him for advice so he’d charge them and become very wealthy.
Story 5: How did Tortoise become the chief in his town? He gave all the animals in the village food daily from his drum.
Beautiful Gazelle and clever Squirrel were in love. However, Gazelle’s father wasn’t sure Squirrel was deserving of his daughter, so he decided to hold a wedding competition. Six suitors emerged to compete for Gazelle’s hand in marriage: rich Tortoise, handsome Zebra, talkative Parrot, strong Rhinoceros, vain Snake and, of course, clever Squirrel.
Gazelle’s father had a riddle for the suitors:
‘Where does the rainy season go during the dry season and where does the dry season go during the rainy season?’
Can you solve the riddle? Read the book to find out how clever Squirrel outsmarted all the other animals and won beautiful Gazelle’s hand in marriage!
THUMBS UP AND DOWN
UP: The story is based on a popular Hausa folktale! This was a huge plus for me. It is also beautifully illustrated! Ok, I have a thing for illustrations! I’m a pretty visual person so the prints and the pictures in a book sometimes help me decide whether or not to buy it. The characters in this book were exquisitely dressed in Hausa outfits such as the kaftan, babbar riga, etc., as well as some simple yet lovely Ankara print outfits.
I admired the Rhino’s decision to try in spite of the very real possibility of being beaten. (You have to read the book to understand. *tongue in cheek*)
DOWN: Squirrel actually lied to the other animals to get ahead. Young readers must be made to understand that winning fair and square is much better than ‘outsmarting’ others.
Ask your child to spot 3 animals that pop up in the illustrations but aren’t mentioned in the book. a. a goat b. a rabbit c. a leopard
Ask your child to list four features of the marriage ceremony in the book. a. music (drummers) b. food and drinks c. colourful traditional outfits d. decorations (flowers)
HAVE FUN WITH THIS BOOK
Team the reading experience with a mini-competition of sorts. Teach your child the importance of fighting fair.
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