Summary: Too Small Tola
Too Small Tola is a new chapter book from Atinuke featuring three stories about a girl living with her grandmother and siblings in Lagos, Nigeria. Everyone teases Tola — sometimes lovingly — for being so small. They think she can’t lift heavy loads or do other things because of her size. But Tola’s grandmother reassures her that you can be small, but mighty, and Tola proves that she is!
The first story Too Small Tola shows what happens when Tola accompanies Grandmommy to the market. In the second story, Small but Mighty, Tola deals with a bully while trying to fetch water at a public tap. The last story, Easter and Eid shows how Tola comes to the rescue when their beloved tailor sustains an injury.
This is an absolutely delightful chapter book. I loved Tola so much. She’s clever, sweet, and sometimes a bit mischievous. Grandmommy, who is also “very-very bossy” is an enjoyable character, very much a typical Nigerian grandmother. Tola has two siblings, Moji (the super smart sister) and Dapo (the soccer obsessed brother).
The author does a nice job of portraying a lower income Lagos neighborhood with neighbors in closer living quarters and shared amenities like a public borehole. When Tola and Grandmommy venture into town, we also see the Lagos with malls and fast food chains like KFC. Finally, the stories are immersive, in turns funny and moving, but always entertaining.
Overall: Too Small Tola
Too Small Tola is a short, engaging collection of three stories about a young Nigerian girl, Tola. This chapter book depicts life in the city of Lagos, as well as the challenges of being a smaller child. Readers who appreciate an international appeal and enjoy books about bullying and grandparent and sibling relationships will enjoy this one. Bonus points for fans of illustrated stories, as this one is well illustrated.
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Have you read this book or any books by Atinuke? I know her Anna Hibiscus books are popular, and I liked Catch That Chicken, a recent picture book she authored.
This review was featured in Writings of the Motherland: Your Best African Books & Writers by the educational publisher Twinkl.
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