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Anna Hibiscus' Song
Atinuke; Lauren Tobia (illus.) Anna Hibiscus' Song . : Gardners Books, 2011. $15.99, ISBN 978-1610670401.

Note: "This is the first picture book featuring Anna Hibiscus and she is very happy in it! So happy, in fact, that she can't quite decide what to do with herself!! So she turns to her grandparents, her aunties, her cousins Chocolate, Angel and Benz, her uncle Tunde and her father, who each offer her a way to express her boundless joy. But being around the people she loves so much only makes her happiness grow and grow; she is SO happy, she is going to EXPLODE! It is her mother who finally helps her to channel her brimming happiness."


This is the first picture book featuring author Atinuke's title character from the eponymous chapter book series. Like the earlier books, Anna Hibiscus' Song celebrates the daily life of a close-knit family in urban Africa. Lauren Tobias' beautiful, full-color illustrations once again add detail and sweetness to Anna Hibiscus' story. Children will enjoy the pictures of Anna Hibiscus interacting with each of her family members in a world full of animals, fruit trees and brightly colored fabric.

In the story, Anna Hibiscus is brimming with happiness and must ask her family to help her express her joy. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and parents share with her the different things they do when they feel happy. Her mother, however, provides the answer that allows her daughter to find her own way of being happy. Anna Hibiscus quietly contemplates her joy until she bursts into song.

In Anna Hibiscus, Atinuke has created a character with universal appeal. She is excited, energetic and eager to learn. The young girl's world revolves around her family, and her relationships with them will be recognizable to all children who read or listen to the book. At the same time, Anna Hibiscus' Song creates a positive portrait of an urban middle-class family in Africa, a rare subject for children's literature. It is highly recommended for reading aloud and for early readers.

Published in Africa Access Review (February 9, 2013)

Copyright 2013 Africa Access

Rating: HR Grade: P / E Type: Book

Reviewed by: Regan Buck Bardeen, U.C.L.A

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