« Search again     |     Back to AfricaAccessReview.org
Good Luck Anna Hibiscus (Anna Hibiscus series, bk. 3)
Atinuke; Lauren Tobias (illus.) Good Luck Anna Hibiscus (Anna Hibiscus series, bk. 3). London / Tulsa: Kane Miller, 2011. $5.99 (pap), ISBN Paper 978 1 61067 007 4.

Note: This is the third installment in the Anna Hibiscus series. There are four chapters. In 'Harmattan Garden', Anna learns about the dry wind that comes from the north and the way it affects plants and people in her city. In 'Double Trouble for Anna Hibiscus,' Anna's twin brothers get into mischief and Anna is blamed for their misadventure. In 'Anna Hibiscus gets New Clothes,' Anna is taken shopping to buy proper clothes for a visit to Canada to visit her maternal grandmother. In the final chapter, 'Good Luck, Anna Hibiscus,' each member of the entire extended family helps Anna get ready for a Canada. As in the other books, the setting is vague. Adults will have to explain to children that Anna's home country is Nigeria.


The third in a series of four books by author Atinuke, Good Luck Anna Hibiscus! returns readers to a large African city to follow the adventures of the young heroine. The four stories, divided into chapters of approximately twenty pages each, take place during the dry holiday season while Anna Hibiscus prepares to visit her maternal grandmother in Canada for Christmas. As in the earlier books, Atinuke never identifies the specific location of Anna's home, although readers familiar with the region will recognize southern Nigeria and the dry harmattan winds that blow from November through February every year. The author celebrates so much that is unique and praiseworthy about the culture in which her stories are set; it raises the question of why she does not claim a particular city, and allow readers to see how it is different from the many other cities of Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

In the first chapter, Harmattan Garden, Anna Hibiscus and her young cousins tend to the garden during the dry season, through which they learn about making sacrifices, community living and sharing with others. Double Trouble for Anna Hibiscus, the second chapter, is a wonderful example of what this book series does best: it is a humorous story that also teaches a lesson. Early elementary school readers will appreciate Anna Hibiscus's struggles with her siblings and the reassurances of familial support. The third story, Anna Hibiscus's New Clothes, speaks more directly to her trip abroad and begins to explore some of the cultural differences between Nigeria and Canada. It introduces the Yoruba word oyinbo, meaning foreign or foreigner. Anna and her family travel across town to the oyinbo stores to shop for warm clothes for her trip, but they discover that foreign practices are not necessarily better than their own ways of doing things. As Grandmother says about a young acquaintance in the oyinbo shop who acts superior to them, the chicken that mistakes itself for a peacock forgets to run from the cooking pot! (80). Throughout the book, Atinuke continually remind readers that Anna Hibiscus's experiences are common to children across the world. When much of the children's literature set in Africa feels extremely isolationist and exoticized, Anna Hibiscus uses poetic repetition to place characters within a global setting: their smiles were the brightest and most beautiful smiles in the whole city . . . in the whole country . . . in the whole world (28,30).

This installment of the Anna Hibiscus series ends with a story about her family preparing Anna for her trip to Canada by making her gifts that will keep her warm and remind her of home. She returns their show of affection in her own special way. Like the first two books in this series, Good Luck Anna Hibiscus! richly evokes daily life in coastal West Africa, focusing particularly on family relationships. Atinuke approaches the episodes in Anna's life with humor and compassion. She is therefore able to cover difficult subjects, such as poverty and race, which other authors might avoid in books aimed at early elementary school readers.

Published in Africa Access Review (Janaury 12, 2012)

Copyright 2012 Africa Access

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

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

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