Anna Hibiscus

Anna Hibiscus
Age Range
Release Date
April 12, 2022
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From acclaimed Nigerian storyteller Atinuke, the first in a series of chapter books set in contemporary West Africa introduces a little girl who has enchanted young readers.

Anna Hibiscus lives in Africa, amazing Africa, with her mother and father, her twin baby brothers (Double and Trouble), and lots of extended family in a big white house with a beautiful garden in a compound in a city. Anna is never lonely—there are always cousins to play and fight with, aunties and uncles laughing and shouting, and parents and grandparents close by. Readers will happily follow as she goes on a seaside vacation, helps plan a party for Auntie Comfort from Canada (will she remember her Nigerian ways?), learns firsthand what it’s really like to be a child selling oranges outside the gate, and longs to see sweet snow. Nigerian storyteller Atinuke’s debut book for children and its sequels, with their charming (and abundant) gray-scale drawings by Lauren Tobia, are newly published in the US by Candlewick Press, joining other celebrated Atinuke stories in captivating young readers.

Editor review

1 review
Tales that inspire curiosity
Overall rating
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Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What I Liked: Anna Hibiscus lives in modern Nigeria. This early chapter book contained 3 stories of Anna Hibiscus and her family. Through her tales, we see that extended family is integral to a happy and well-run family life. Anna Hibiscus’s family went on vacation with just her immediate family and it wasn’t much fun for anyone to keep up with her precocious twin baby brothers, Double and Trouble. So, her father solved each roadblock by bringing a family group to come help. It wasn’t balanced and restful until the whole clan arrived and was whole again.
Through Anna Hibiscus and her family, we can see some of the important cultural elements that surround her experience. I learned new terms such as Baba and Wrappa for traditional Nigerian clothing, the importance of gift-giving when visiting, and the proper way to show respect for elders. It was new for me to learn that eating with your fingers is the traditional way of eating and is still practiced today.
Anna Hibiscus learned an important lesson in the economy when she sold her oranges on the side of the road like other girls. For anyone who has had their own lemonade stand, we can identify with her pride and joy of doing well and earning money. However, where she lives, her outselling the other girls means that they will go home hungry because the other girls’ families depended on their income to survive and Anna Hibiscus does not. Feeling terrible she helps the girls the next day to sell their oranges to repent.

What Left Me Wanting More: The Anna Hibiscus stories are told with the curiosity and innocence of a young child. There are humorous times that she shares with her family. I think this story could connect better with audiences if there were more illustrations and in color.

Final Verdict: Anna Hibiscus raised my curiosity about African culture - both the modern and traditional trends. Anna’s mother is from Canada and her Aunt has moved to America, so she is aware of the larger world. She texts and mails letters to family to keep in touch while also being a child of Nigerian traditions. I like that this book represents a view into a culture that doesn’t have much representation in Western literature. There were times that her family handled a situation differently than I would have expected, which shows how much culture comes into everyday decisions.
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