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scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source

Category results for 'Africa'.

Anna Hibiscus is a short, four-chapter book about a girl who lives in Africa... "Amazing Africa." She is part of a large, busy extended family who live in a large white house and are always there for each other -- which can sometimes get to be too much, as the first chapter begins with Anna going on a vacation with her parents and siblings. But before long, they realize just how important it is to have all the various members of their family around -- from the cousins to the uncles, aunties, and grandmother and grandfather. 

My children (7 and 4) both enjoyed this as a read-aloud, and I loved getting this little glimpse of a family living in Africa, though there are still some connections to North America, as Anna's mother is Canadian and she also has an (African-born) aunt who lives in America. I remember watching a TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talking about the danger of believing a "single story" about a person or place, but specifically Africa and the way the continent and its people are often portrayed in American media. Like Adichie, the author of this book, Atinuke, is Nigerian-born, and while we're not told which country Anna Hibiscus lives in, the characters and setting are portrayed in a familiar, loving way -- in a way that adeptly highlights both differences and similarities between the lives of Anna and the hypothetical American reader. 

While Anna's family appears financially secure, poverty is touched on in a couple chapters, and I thought it was handled especially well in chapter 3 when Anna wants to sell oranges like the girls she sees out on her street. It could be a good lead-in to discussing things like poverty, responsibility, and privilege. We're looking forward to reading more in this series!

Scrounged From: Amazon

Format: Paperback
Author: Atinuke
Illustrator: Lauren Tobia
Pages: 109
Content Advisory: None

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Many girls love horses, and while I was not as intense as some (I never sought out riding lessons or anything like that), if my eventual fascination can be traced back to anything, I think it would have to be this book. King of the Wind is definitely my favorite of Marguerite Henry's many horse stories.

On the surface, it is the story of a boy and his horse, and the ups and downs (and eventual triumphs) of their journey together through several countries. But I feel that Henry has captured more than just a story here -- it feels like a legend, and Sham, while remaining a non-anthropomorphized horse, portrays a little something beyond just an animal -- he really feels like a historical figure who has since become larger than life.

I remember how much this book gripped my imagination as a girl -- I felt Agba's innocence, loneliness, and occasional despair, and felt so keenly the connection between the horse and the boy. This was aided by Wesley Dennis's superb illustrations, which capture the beauty of the horse characters throughout their many movements (if you can get a copy of this book that has the full color illustrations, do it!).

On another level, I think this book reminds us all that we are more than our "pedigrees." Sham proves himself by what he does, not by what is written down about who/where he comes from.

Scrounged From:

Format: Hardcover
Author: Marguerite Henry
Illustrator: Wesley Dennis
Pages: 176
Content Advisory: There are some depictions of cruelty to horses and people.

More Reviews at Amazon

Perhaps I'm biased since I already agree with the premise of this book, but lions have always been one of my favorite animals and are totally the "king of beasts," so I enjoyed 10 Reasons to Love ... a Lion, and the way it introduces lions' characteristics, habitat, and lifestyle. 

It's a short, informational read, and each double-page illustration includes some other animals and plants that are also found on the African savannah.

(Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.)

Scrounged From: NetGalley

Format: Kindle
Author: Catherine Barr
Illustrator: Hanako Clulow
Pages: 24
Content Advisory: None

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My favorite things about Naomi Howarth's Tug of War are the really lovely illustrations, depicting intricate patterns of jungle foliage, bright birds and butterflies, and visually appealing use of colors in general, with the brighter colors standing out against the earth tones and greens of plants, as well as the green of a tortoise who is the main character.

Tortoise wants to make some new friends, but unfortunately the elephant and hippopotamus look down on him because he's slow and wrinkly and not as big and impressive as they are. He finds a way to use their pride against them with a little trick though, and demonstrates that being smaller in size does not mean inferior. 

I do appreciate the message of the book, though perhaps it's a tad too simplistic in the way it wraps up. I would also hope that even though children will probably enjoy this story, they will learn to recognize that in real life not every insult should compel you to have to "prove" your abilities to others. 

(Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.)

Scrounged From: NetGalley

Format: Kindle
Author: Naomi Howarth
Pages: 32
Content Advisory: Some unkind name-calling, like "stupid."

More Reviews at Amazon

Though I just featured another picture book about Wangari Maathai (Wangari's Trees of Peace) I found Planting the Trees of Kenya to be just as wonderful at telling Wangari's story, and I also thought it was more detailed not only in the illustrations, but also in its descriptions of the before-and-after pictures of the Kenyan landscape, as well as the practical, daily benefits that a healthy amount of trees can bring to the average worker. 

So not only does this story briefly cover Wangari's early life and education, but it also paints a vivid picture of her vision for re-planting the destroyed trees of Kenya, empowering the women (and men, eventually) around her to take personal responsibility for their environment, and the difference that trees can make to an environment.

This is a great story of a remarkable woman, but also a book that can help to inspire us all to take a greater sense of responsibility for the care of the land that we all live on.

Scrounged From: Our local library

Format: Hardcover
Author/Illustrator: Claire A. Nivola
Pages: 32
Content Advisory: None

More Reviews at Amazon

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