She is the author of three series for 7-to 9-year old readers. Each one brings readers to the country of her birth, Nigeria and helps them discover a bit of what it is like to live there. Some of Atinuke’s characters live in city and others live in rural settings – all of them reflect her own young life.
Atinuke is a storyteller. Her voice bursts from the pages of her books. Each is a joy to read. The language sings in your mind or as you read it aloud. The stories bring both the setting and characters to life. I appreciate the repeated refrain at the start of each chapter connecting readers to the story and reminding them of what they already know.
Too Small Tola is the first book in her newly launched series. Tola lives with her Grandmommy, her sister and her brother in a rundown apartment house in the megacity of Lagos. Tola and her sister really like school, her brother, not so much. Moji, who is very clever, works hard at her studies. She is hoping to be a doctor one day. Dapo, who is very fast, hopes to be a futbol player – or a car mechanic. Tola, who is small, is determined and strong. Together with Grandmommy (who is very bossy,) they are a family. They make best of what they have.
Readers will have the chance to consider the gifts of running water, electricity and schooling for all. They will be reminded of what it means to be small, youngest and seemingly unnoticed. When readers look closer, they’ll find the joys each of those circumstances brings.
The No.1 Car Spotter series shares the challenges and opportunities to be found when living in rural Nigeria. I love sharing the tales of Oluwalase Babatunde Benson – the No. 1 Car Spotter in his village… in the world with my third graders and they loved him.
What authors have you found who share understanding of different cultures and places with your readers? What books do you share to help children learn more about our world?