Africa, Amazing Africa, Country by Country – Atinuke’s amazing picture book introduces readers young and old to all the countries of Africa, the Continent.
Reviewing books by writers who are not Americans is an opportunity to discover other countries, cultures, and ways of life I seldom brush up against. A few months ago, I reviewed a charming children’s book called Too Small Tola, whose author is known by a single name, Atinuke. She was born and raised in Nigeria, a country in the Continent of Africa. She currently lives in Wales (a constituent country of the UK), but from reading Too Small Tola, I sensed this woman was a natural-born storyteller and suspected that talent came from her Nigerian background. I then, thanks to Doctors Without Borders, taped a map of the African Continent on a kitchen cabinet door, noting Nigeria’s location in the African continent.
Africa, Amazing Africa, Country by Country, is a fabulous way for any reader, child, or adult, to be introduced to a continent that is as big as the U.S., Mexico, Europe, Japan, and India “all put together!” I am still asking myself, how the heck did my U.S. schooling manage to ignore something as huge as Africa, with at least fifty-five different countries? I had to wait almost six months to get my hands on Atinuke’s wonderfully written and colorfully illustrated (by artist Mouni Feddag) book.
Atinuke’s three-page introduction is filled with facts that drove me to Google to see if I was reading correctly. Her vocabulary is just what a young reader will recognize and want to read about: words like Adventure; Gigantic; Ancient Kingdoms; Camels; Football. But there are also words we may want to look up for ourselves or for our younger readers, words like “savanna” and “millennia.” She has “Lamborghinis” in there, too. Atinuke is a wealth of information about Africa’s firsts in the world, such as the first alphabet and the first university. And who do you think first figured out the circumference of the earth? Eratosthenes, an ancient mathematician (among other things) most known as a Greek, but, in fact, he was born in Cyrene, now known as Libya, ergo, he is African, North African to be exact. It may be close to the Mediterranean, but the continent is Africa, not Europe, and the country is Libya, not Greece.
Although the book is a celebration of her beloved and amazing continent of Africa, Atinuke does not avoid “a lot of heartbreak as well.” It is an honest book. She does not avoid topics such as fair-trade products or the fact that she knows Africa may have been changing even while she wrote her book.
Once again, I encourage all reading households to have at least one up-to-date world atlas (make it an affordable softcover book) and have it nearby when you read Africa, Amazing Africa, Country by Country. Keep the atlas at hand no matter what you or your children are reading. Her stories about each country are never more than one page with generously sized print and Feddag’s engaging illustrations: Southern Africa with ten countries, East Africa with fourteen countries, West Africa with fifteen countries, Central Africa, with nine countries, and North Africa with seven.
So, what about those “American” writers I began with? Well, they should be identified as citizens of the United States of the North American Continent, just as are Canadians, Mexicans, and citizens of Greenland, which is a District of Denmark. Let Atinuke’s Africa, Amazing Africa, Country by Country be the book that opens the Continent of Africa to you and your children.
Atinuke’s book has driven me mad with looking at the world we live in much more closely. I now have a map of Central Africa on another kitchen door, and if this keeps up, I may need a bigger kitchen. – Sunny Solomon
Also available by Atinuke: Anna Hibiscus; The No. 1 Car Spotter; Baby Goes to Market; B is for Baby; Anna Hibiscus’ Song; Hooray for Anna Hibiscus; Splash, Anna Hibiscus; Good Luck Anna Hibiscus; Have Fun Anna Hibiscus; Catch that Chicken!; Love from Anna Hibiscus; Go Well, Anna Hibiscus; You’re Amazing Anna Hibiscus; Double Trouble Anna Hibiscus; Welcome Home Anna Hibiscus; Baby, Sleepy Baby.
Mouni Feddag: http://mouni.altervista.org/
Also available by illustrator Mouni Feddag: Illustration: What’s the Point?, A Book of Illustrated Illustrations That Illustrate Illustration.
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