Atinuke and Tobia, L. (2011). Anna Hibiscus’ song. Tulsa, OK: Kane Miller Publishing.
Anna Hibiscus is a girl who lives in a modern African city in a compound with her large extended family. Anna Hibiscus is also the protagonist of a transitional fiction series: the stories are windows into the life of an African girl, and her small discoveries and challenges. In this picture book Anna Hibiscus is happy and wants to know what to do about it. She approaches various family members who are going about their daily activities, to ask them what to do. Each has a different answer but ultimately Anna Hibiscus finds her own way to express her joy. The colorful illustrations by Tobia complement the lively, colorful, family and their home.
This would be an excellent text to use with even the youngest children to introduce diversity and multiculturalism, and daily life in another culture. Older children may be asked to make text-to-self and text-to-world connections, comparing and contrasting the cultural differences that are depicted in the illustrations.
As a fan of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (McCall Smith) series for adults, this is a great read-alike: gentle stories of the “real” Africa. In the very “white” district in which I teach, examples of racial diversity in daily life are especially important.
Diversity, Multiculturalism, Africa, Families
Same Same But Different (Kostecki) and Back to School (Ajmera) would be nice complement to this book, with similar themes of celebrating our differences while embracing what children share with each other.