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Emeka's Gift ; An African Counting Story
Onyefulu, Ifeoma; Emeka's Gift ; An African Counting Story. New York: Dutton Books / Cobblehill, 1995. $14.95, ISBN 0-525-65205-1.

Note: In this picture book, Emeka, the son of the author, introduces the reader to life in the village of Ibaji, Nigeria. Unfortunately, the book lacks a map of Nigeria to identify where Ibaji actually is located and where the Igala people live in respect to t

Demographers state that one in five Africans is a Nigerian. Because of the large Nigerian population, books about different Nigerian ethnic groups are an important media for describing African culture. In the book Emeka's Gift, Emeka, the son of the author, introduces the reader to the village. This autobiographical sketch provides an introduction to rural life. By using the counting format, Onyefulu also reminds the young reader of the numbers 1 through 10. The story focuses on Emeka's effort to find an appropriate gift for his grandmother. The strength of this book lies in its personalized visit to a real village of an ethnic minority group. The author, an Igbo by birth and a professional photographer, provides a visual and written description for the reader about items and practices that might be unfamiliar. The young reader can see from the illustrations the similarities and differences between Nigeria and the U.S. For instance, the books underscores the respect a child gives to a grandmother. The last photo shows a group of children who are most likely the same age as the young reader. Two weakness diminish the excellence of the book. First, Onyefulu fails to use this opportunity to introduce the Igala language. Following the counting structure, the author could have included the Igala number system. As the text stands, a reader would believe that children in this community speak only English. In reality, these children learn their numbers in Igala first and then in English. A second weakness is the lack of a map of Nigeria to identify where Ibaji actually is located and where the Igala people live in respect to the capital and the Niger River. Despite these weaknesses, this book provides a realistic view of village life in southern Nigeria. Readers can use the photos to generate topics of discussion about community practices, religion, clothing, food, division of labor, and family structure. These topics are common in an elementary curriculum.
Copyright © 1995 by Africa Access, all rights reserved. Africa Access permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and Africa Access Review. For any other proposed use, contact AfricaAccess@aol.com


Copyright © 1995 by Africa Access, all rights reserved. Africa Access permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and Africa Access Review. For any other proposed use, contact AfricaAccess@aol.com


Rating: R Grade: P Type: Book

Reviewed by: Patricia Kuntz, Madison Wisconsin

Subject: Black author / Nigeria / Igala / Counting / West Africa