Title: Hooray for Anna Hibiscus!
Illustrator: Lauren Tobia
Publisher: Kane Miller
Concepts: caring labor, markets, poverty, wealth
Review: Anna Hibiscus lives in a lovely old house in Africa with her twin baby brothers (aptly named Double and Trouble), parents, aunties, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. With all these people, Anna is never lonely, and everyone does what they can to contribute to the needs of the household. Their compound, which encloses the most beautiful garden that Anna has ever seen, is nestled in a busy city filled with markets, lagoons, roads, skyscrapers, and shanty towns.
In this setting, Anna navigates through a series of adventures and learning moments that take her anywhere from the garden to the market and well beyond, even to Canada where her mother was born. Each of these adventures is described as a short story in a series of four books.
This second book in the series has Anna taking a big step: she has become old enough to attend school. As her father reminds her, growing-up children need to go to school so they can work to make Africa a better place. Anna certainly has her work cut out for her when she is selected to sing a solo for a visiting president from another country. Her learning also progresses outside of school, especially when she accompanies her aunty and uncle on an errand to another part of the city where children beg and scavenge through trash to survive.
The book series is written by a gifted story-teller, Nigerian-born Atinuke, and illustrated by Lauren Tobia with an abundance of expressive sketches. Many of the stories include some sort of an economics theme, including the role of markets, the contrast between abject poverty and wealth, and the gender division of labor within the home. Although the author does not specify which country Anna is from, which could contribute to unrealistic generalizations, the books provide young readers with a unique view of the wonders of life in a large extended family in an urban African context.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children