Review of Too Small Tola and the Three Fine Girls

Too Small Tola and the Three Fine Girls
by Atinuke; illus. by Onyinye Iwu
Primary, Intermediate     Candlewick    96 pp.    g
9/22     978-1-5362-2517-4     $15.99

Tola, in spite of her young age and diminutive stature, accomplishes big things in this sequel to Too Small Tola (rev. 3/21). In the first of three stand-alone chapters, Tola finds Grandmommy’s lost earring, a family heirloom that, when Grandmommy wears it, gives her “the strength to carry on.” In the second, Tola sells groundnuts at the side of the road when Grandmommy is sick with malaria. In the third story, Tola is jealous of “three fine girls” who have money for new sneakers and chic jeans. But these same girls are envious of Tola who, standing on the back of her friend’s bicycle exuding joy as she heads to the masquerades, is “the happiest girl in the world.” The author does not shy away from describing the challenges of daily life in Lagos, Nigeria, but these are not stories of hardship. Atinuke uses her memorable storyteller’s voice to create a vivid picture of a strong, loving matriarch; a family surrounded by supportive friends; and Tola, an irresistible heroine who does what she can to help. With large type, plenty of white space on the page, and energetic line drawings throughout, the book is approachable for many young readers, who will be well rewarded for their efforts.

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Maeve Visser Knoth

Maeve Visser Knoth is a librarian at Phillips Brooks School, Menlo Park, ­California. She has chaired the Notable Children’s Books Committee and taught at Notre Dame de Namur University and Lesley University.

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