Customer Reviews


10 Reviews
5 star:
 (8)
4 star:
 (2)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
Most Helpful First | Newest First

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Africa, amazing Africa., September 4, 2010
This review is from: Anna Hibiscus (Paperback)
Rarer than quality books. More elusive than good picture books for older readers. The goal, the gem, the one kind of book all children's librarians seek but know are so difficult to find . . . . the really well written early chapter book. Now let's say you've found one. It happens. Lots exist, to a certain extent (and if you know where to look). Please do me the favor of now asking yourself the following questions about said book: (A) Does it contain characters from another country? If you answered yes, then (B) Are those characters human? At this point, we aren't even talking about rare early chapter books. We're talking about near non-existent ones in the American book marketplace. Even if you answered yes to both (A) and (B), can you still guarantee me that the book is really well written with phenomenal illustrations? Cause aside from the occasional White Elephant or Rickshaw Girl there's not a whole heckuva lot to choose from. That's probably part of the reason I'm so enormously fond of this new Anna Hibiscus series by Nigeria-born author Atinuke. Not only are the stories in both Anna Hibiscus and its sequel Hooray for Anna Hibiscus! charming but they manage to walk the fine line that exists between truth and perception. There's not a kid in this country that won't identify with Anna right off the bat, even if her life is entirely different from their own.

"Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa. Amazing Africa." Get used to those words. It won't be the last time you hear them. Anna Hibiscus is a little girl who lives in a beautiful white compound surrounded by her extended family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents all live together in a single home. Anna's mother is originally from Canada, but she fits right in with everyone and the books Anna Hibiscus and Hooray for Anna Hibiscus follow Anna's small adventures with her family. One minute she's obsessed with the idea of snow, and the next she's singing a song for a president of another country. Sometimes she has to watch her twin baby brothers Double and Trouble, and sometimes she's watching the family goat butt heads with the family's new generator. Whatever the case, Anna's a sweet, thoroughly likable character and readers will find themselves longing for a life where there are always cousins to play with, and sweet mango trees in the backyard to climb for fun.

She has a way with words, that Atinuke. It will surprise no one reading these stories that she is a professional storyteller. For example, any kid who has ever had a younger sibling that was teething will instantly understand why Atinuke uses capital letters to describe the newly awakened Double and Trouble with the sentence, "They were Awake and Angry." The tone of the books is always dead on. Though Anna learns a couple lessons in the course of these tales, you never feel as if the books are preachy or didactic. For example, when Anna refuses to get her hair done any more, all her grandmother has to say is "Leave her. She will learn," and you know that grandma speaks the exact truth.

Atinuke's other great strength is that she manages to balance the contemporary and the traditional with ease. I'm sure we may have an early chapter book or two set in Africa (though none immediately come to mind) but I CERTAINLY can't think of any that take place in a modern setting. The only book that comes to mind was City Boy by Jan Michael, and that certainly was a title for older readers. In the Anna Hibiscus books, though, uncles are calling one another on cell phones and Anna's texting her aunt across the sea. At the same time, the story "Auntie Comfort" defines the traditions of the family that are still in place. Says the book, "Anna's mother and father and aunties and uncles drive to work in their cars. They send text messages and e-mails around the world, and call from the market on their mobile phones to see what shopping needs doing. But the clothes they wear are made from colorful African cloth, waxed and dyed and printed. The languages they speak are African as well as English." So the duality of old and new are shown in a clever little tale. One that I suspect won't age all that readily.

It's interesting to me that the very first story in Anna Hibiscus is a tale of how Anna and her mom, dad, and brothers try to take a vacation without the extended relatives, only to realize that they need them more than they thought. At first I was puzzled as to why you'd just thrust the reader into the family situation so abruptly. Then I realized that Atinuke uses this story to introduce to kids the notion of having lots of cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents around at all times. It's like the characters are being introduced on a stage to our applause. And once you understand the living situation (everyone lives in one big house) the rest of the book will make that much more sense. The story also reminded me more than a little of that classic folktale It Could Always Be Worse, which is fun.

Two of the stories in the books are rather similar to one another, but I appreciated their presence. Part of what makes the Anna Hibiscus tales so remarkable is that Anna learns continually about differences in class. So in the first book, the story "Anna Hibiscus sells oranges" tells the tale of Anna envying the girls outside her compound who must sell fruit to earn a living, only to learn what it really means to have to be a kid and work for a living. In the second book, "The other side of the city" shows Anna the poorer neighborhoods of her town. These are very careful little stories, but they really reinforce the message of being grateful for what you already have. That's not the only topic Atinuke isn't afraid to broach in an early chapter book, of course. I've almost never seen a book that talks about the amount of work that goes into styling African hair that is "thicker and shinier and curlier than any other hair in the whole world." The tale of Anna's refusal to engage in the traditional Saturday braiding and weaving of her hair and the horrific results of that choice is like no story I've ever read anywhere before.

Now right from the start folks might worry that the men in this book all seem to go to work while the women stay home and remain traditional keepers of the home. That is not really the case, though. One of the first stories in the book is about Auntie Comfort who lives and has a job in America and whom Grandfather worries may have forgotten her African roots (no reason to fear). In the course of that tale we learn that everyone in the home has a job. And in the second book we hear a lot about the various jobs the aunts hold in the family. It seems that only Anna's grandfather and grandmother are always home without jobs. Not a problem as I see it.

All this would be enough but it's illustrator Lauren Tobia who knows how to really bring these stories to life. Every character in these books looks exactly right. Anna herself is charming. Half the time (if you're watching) her flip-flops go flying hither and thither without her notice. I love the different kinds of braided hair you notice throughout the text and the clothes. With just a few swipes of the pen, Ms. Tobia can conjure up a situation fraught with stress or the nicest, homiest family scene. If kids start yearning to belong to a gigantic fun family like the one Anna Hibiscus belongs to, at least some of the credit is going to have to go to Lauren Tobia for capturing this idyllic community.

Admittedly, I would have liked Atinuke to give her books a country and not just a vague "Africa" for where they take place. It's great for kids to know what life is like overseas, but there's always the danger that they'll just assume that all of Africa is one and the same. That said, it's hard to find much fault with such a lovely series. From the pictures to the stories to the writing to the tone, everything about these books makes you feel happy and content. Here's hoping there are more Anna Hibiscus books somewhere in the works. A finer crop of overseas fare I have yet to find for the early chapter book set. Memorable and enchanting.

For ages 5-9
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review: Anna Hibiscus, January 17, 2012
By 
Maestra Amanda (Harrisonburg, VA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Anna Hibiscus (Paperback)
I picked this book up as I had heard some buzz about it and the author, Atinuke. I'll be honest, I didn't think I'd like it; I just didn't think it would be for me. However, once I started reading it, I fell in love with Anna Hibiscus!

Anna Hibiscus lives with her very large family in Africa. In addition to her parents and siblings, she lives with her grandparents, her aunties, uncles and cousins in a very large compound. (It is explained later in the book that this is the traditional way in Africa).

I like Anna because she has spunk and she finds herself in situations where, while the locale might be different, the situation is similar to readers in the US. For instance---wanting snow. She bugs her family to death wanting snow until finally she finds some ice shavings in the freezer and pretends. I'm almost to that point myself---if I don't see some snow on my doorstep soon, I'm going to have to shave some ice from my freezer and pretend!

All in all, I loved the book, Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2nd grader loved this book, October 12, 2011
This review is from: Anna Hibiscus (Paperback)
We read this book over the summer before 2nd grade and my daughter was immediatly asking for more in the series, which I think we'll do for Christmas or her birthday. These are very uniquely written, sweet stories that I loved reading to my daughter. While the setting is so different than our life here in America, my daughter was drawn in by Anna's universal appeal and learned a lot about the differences and the similarites of those from another culture. This story is truly a lovely way to experiance Anna's Africa.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why can't I give it 10 stars!?!?!?, October 20, 2013
By 
Rachel A. Dale (Bloomington, IN United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Anna Hibiscus (Paperback)
Where do I even begin?
I LOVE the Anna Hibiscus series! I am always trying to find gentle chapter books for my preschool-aged daughter to enjoy, and it is quite a challenge. I just stumbled onto the first Anna Hibiscus book, and we were immediately hooked. The author is an amazing storyteller. There are wonderful illustrations on every page, which is so nice as your are transitioning into chapter books.

The stories are sweet, entertaining, educational, humorous, and touching. I love that my daughter is getting a glimpse of what life is like in other places around the world. You see a beautiful picture of a loving middle class family and also the realism of the intense poverty that exists right outside their doors. What an incredible teaching tool to use with young children.

The only draw-back is that my daughter gets a little irritated by all of my crying....it delays the continuation of the story more often than she would like. :)
These are beautiful stories with great life lessons.
I cannot recommend Anna Hibiscus highly enough.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!, September 5, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Anna Hibiscus (Paperback)
Our school librarian suggested the book for summer reading. I loved reading the book to my second grader and loved it more as she read it to me. We now have the series.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Africa!, May 21, 2011
By 
Heidi Grange (Logan, UT United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Anna Hibiscus (Paperback)
Anna Hibiscus lives in amazing Africa. She lives in a white house with a courtyard with her parents, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents (except her mother's relations who live in Canada). There is plenty for her to enjoy and learn in her life, whether it is visiting the beach with family, selling oranges to help someone else, or dreaming of snow in far off Canada.

This book contains four short stories about Anna Hibiscus's life in Africa. The stories move smoothly and comfortably through life in Africa. The reader learns a lot about a different culture almost without being aware of it. This is the best kind of story, in my opinion, where the reader learns about different points-of-view without the author trying to teach it. The reader quickly learns to like Anna Hibiscus and her extended family. The delightful illustrations beautifully compliment the stories. I soon wished I could climb Anna Hibiscus's favorite tree or laugh and play at the beach with her and her family.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children, January 26, 2011
This review is from: Anna Hibiscus (Paperback)
Anna Hibiscus lives in a lovely old house in Africa with her twin baby brothers (aptly named Double and Trouble), parents, aunties, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. With all these people, Anna is never lonely, and everyone does what they can to contribute to the needs of the household. Their compound, which encloses the most beautiful garden that Anna has ever seen, is nestled in a busy city filled with markets, lagoons, roads, skyscrapers, and shanty towns.

In this setting, Anna navigates through a series of adventures and learning moments that take her anywhere from the garden to the market and well beyond, even to Canada where her mother was born. Each of these adventures is described as a short story in a series of four books.

This first installment of the series kicks off with a family holiday outside of the city. Just Anna and her baby brothers and parents. Double and Trouble are too much trouble though, and ultimately, the entire family, grandparents and all, have converged on the beach house to help out. In another one of the book's stories, Anna learns just how fortunate she is when she experiences firsthand the tough life lived by the children who sell fruits and vegetables on the street outside the family compound.

The book series is written by a gifted story-teller, Nigerian-born Atinuke, and illustrated by Lauren Tobia with an abundance of expressive sketches. Many of the stories include some sort of an economics theme, including the role of markets, the contrast between abject poverty and wealth, and the gender division of labor within the home. Although the author does not specify which country Anna is from, which could contribute to unrealistic generalizations, the books provide young readers with a unique view of the wonders of life in a large extended family in an urban African context.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!, September 20, 2010
This review is from: Anna Hibiscus (Paperback)
I love Anna Hibiscus and will read any story about her and her family! Atinuke writes in such a way that the reader is drawn immediately into Anna's big, warm family and made welcome. What will Anna do next? How will it all play out in her world, with her family, in amazing Africa? Refreshing and appealing, filled with honesty, humor, charm and warmth, I found Anna Hibiscus to be outstanding and a world absolutely worth venturing into. - Biblio Reads Children's Book review
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book!!!, June 30, 2014
By 
KLZO "KLZO" (Redmond, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Anna Hibiscus (Paperback)
I had never heard of this gem until the author visited our local school. I am so suprized that this book series is not more popular and on more parents'/teachers'/librarians' radar. I am both a teacher and a parent and this series is amazing at keeping early and older readers entertained as well as teaching the children about different cultures. It has started more valuable discussions than you can imagine! I love, love, love Anna Hibiscus!!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Another joyful family story of Hibiscus!, April 22, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Anna Hibiscus (Paperback)
I adore this series. A wonderful look at a loving family and sweet girl. Set in the current time period African city.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Anna Hibiscus
Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke (Paperback - October 1, 2007)
Used & New from: $0.73
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.