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Hooray for Anna Hibiscus! (Anna Hibiscus series, bk. 2)
Atinuke; Tobia, Lauren (illus.) Hooray for Anna Hibiscus! (Anna Hibiscus series, bk. 2). Tulsa, OK: Kane Miller, 2010. $5.99 (pap), ISBN Paper 9781935279747 / 1935279742.

Note: "[In chapter one, Anna 'biscus! Sing!' Anna] loves singing to her two baby brother, Double and Trouble. But when she is chosen to sing for her school in front of the president, her throat runs dry, and her bones turn to stone. Can Double and Trouble save her?" In chapter two 'Your Hair, Anna Hibiscus' readers learn about hair-braiding, how "traditional African women and girls braid and weave their hair ....how such thick and curly hair stays shiny and beautiful and neat, with no chemicals whatsoever." In 'Anna Hibiscus and the New Generator' the machine fixes power outages but steals story time, family time and candlelit adventures. In "The Other side of the City" Anna visits a poverty stricken part of the city. When a "beggar girl" calls out, "Fine girl, help me. Fine girl, help your sister." Anna must decide what to do. As in the other books in the series, parents and educators should explain that Anna's home country is Nigeria.


Hooray for Anna Hibiscus, by Atinuke, is the second in a series of four books, all narrating episodes in the life of Anna Hibiscus, a little girl living in a large city in Africa. Author Atinuke writes in a simple and appealing style that renders Anna's world in fascinating detail for early readers. Each of the four chapters stand independently as stories about what it is like to be a child in urban Africa. Although contextual clues point to the setting as Lagos, Nigeria (the Yoruba names, the descriptions of a large city and extensive lagoons), Atinuke never identifies the exact location of Anna's home. This oversight reinforces the common perception of an overly-homogenized African continent. Nevertheless, the strength of the books lies in its positive and realistic depiction of an urban, middle-class African family. This setting is unusual in Africana children's literature, which typically focuses on rural life.

The book begins by stating that Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa. This celebratory statement about the continent is repeated at the start of each chapter. Throughout Hooray for Anna Hibiscus, it is reinforced by descriptions of beautiful scenery, interesting events and familial interactions. Atinuke makes Anna's family and their compound the center of her world, even as she goes out and experiences life in the city. In the first chapter, Anna begins attending school and sings at an important ceremony. The story gives readers a sense of the place of Anna's country within Africa and the world community. The second chapter turns closer to home, describing Anna's struggles with her hair, which is thicker and shinier and curlier than any other hair in the whole world. The third chapter also addresses an issue common for children in Nigeria: living with intermittent electricity. Atinuke tells the story of the new generator in a way that highlights the contributions of older generations and the importance of orality in Anna's upbringing. It features both the compromises and the advantages of living in Anna's world. This theme continues into the final chapter, in which Anna visits a poor neighborhood and encounters children who lead a far less privileged life than she does. As Anna's mother says, It is not easy to look at poverty. Atinuke does not shy away from realistic descriptions of the children Anna meets, but young readers will benefit from seeing the many sides of life in an African city.

Hooray for Anna Hibiscus is highly recommended for both reading aloud and for independent readers. The illustrations by Lauren Tobia are particularly rich in detail and beautifully show the personal relationships of the characters. The stories of Anna Hibiscus highlight the experiences of urban African children and depict many adventures that are relatable to all school-age children.

Published in Africa Access Review (January 12,, 2012)

Copyright 2012 Africa Access

Rating: R /A / H Grade: P / E Type: Book

Reviewed by: Regan Buck Bardeen, UCLA

Subject: Africa / Fiction / Nigeria / Black author / West Africa / Urban setting / City and town life