Everyday Africa

September is National African Immigrant Heritage Month, established by the United States House of Representatives in 2015. One board book and two picture books move beyond the sensationalized topics often associated with Africa and broaden perceptions of the continent by capturing familiar scenes of everyday life. For more related books see Monica Edinger's 2014 Horn Book Magazine article "Books About Africa"; or click the Africa subject tag in the Horn Book Guide/Reviews Database.  

Habtemariam, Fitsum Tesfaye Ethiopia

24 pp. | Barefoot | October, 2023 | Trade ISBN 979-8-88859-011-9 $9.99 

Our World series. Illustrated by Netsanet Tesfay. In this slice-of-life board book, a young dark-skinned girl and her father rise to the promise of a new day in Ethiopia, break bread (literally — they eat chechebsa, an Ethiopian torn flatbread), then spend a pleasant day at Entoto Natural Park, where horse-riding and hide-and-seek are on the agenda. The doting pair returns home to enjoy dinner with Mom and the girl’s older brother, and when it’s slumbertime, Dad looks happy as a clam reading his daughter a bedtime story. Habtemariam’s characters and Tesfay’s depiction (colorful childlike illustrations offer interesting details) of the city of Addis Ababa exude bonhomie. Ethiopian social practices (like eating with one’s hands from a communal plate and the Habesha coffee ceremony) are casually woven into the story. A pictorial glossary of Amharic words concludes this winsome offering. 

Ònájìn, Àlàbá Waaa Waaa Goes Táwà 

40 pp. | Random/Random House Studio | November, 2023 | Trade ISBN 978-0-593-64407-2 $18.99 

Táwà, a small Nigerian girl, goads her mother into taking her along on a trip to the outdoor market — by throwing a hissy fit. They visit an ankara shop and a hairdresser as well, before heading home to await Táwà’s father’s return from work. Every step of the way, Táwà has a fiery meltdown whenever things so much as threaten to not go her way. Bright digital illustrations, which faithfully render daily life in Nigeria, amusingly portray the alarm Táwà’s epic blowups cause, though her exhausted dad’s response is only one of sheer frustration. Táwà finally reveals her softer side when, in a comedic role reversal, she gets a taste of her own medicine. An understated confection that addresses the relatable subject of young children’s temper tantrums with honesty and humor. 

Wilson-Max, Ken Eco Girl   

32 pp. | Candlewick | March, 2023 | Trade ISBN 978-1-5362-2809-0 $17.99 

A young Black girl named Eve lives in a veritable Eden at the edge of a forest somewhere in Africa. Like her biblical namesake, she feels dutybound to care for the living world, a role her dad says trees — the girl’s hobby horse — also play. Eve’s favorite green friend is the baobab tree, so she is delighted when Grandma gifts her a baobab seedling with which to continue an intergenerational tradition of planting a tree for each family member. Like her seedling, Eve will need patience and tender loving care in order to grow big and strong. Wilson-Max’s warm, painterly acrylic illustrations glow with rich subtropical colors. This gentle celebration of our bonds with family and nature is appended with facts about trees and African re-greening projects. 


Summer Edward

Horn Book Consulting Editor Summer Edward is a Trinidadian American author, children’s book editor, educator, K-12 literacy specialist, Caribbean children’s and YA literature advocate, and commentator on books for young readers. She holds an M.S.Ed. degree in Reading, Writing, Literacy from the University of Pennsylvania and founded Anansesem, an online magazine that for 10 years covered Caribbean children’s and YA literature. She has written for Kirkus ReviewsSchool Library JournalThe Horn BookWOW Stories: Connections from the ClassroomLiteracy Dailysx salon, KidLit TV, the Commonwealth Education Trust, Social Justice Books, and more. Learn more about her work at www.summeredward.com.

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