Double Trouble for Anna Hibiscus!

Youngsters may have encountered Nigerian-born storyteller Atinuke's Anna Hibiscus in both picture books and chapter books, and if they have, they know she's an exuberant, biracial girl who "lives in Africa. Amazing Africa." This warm, appealing picture book opens with Anna, leaning her head against her redheaded Mama's big, pregnant belly. This, it turns out, is the calm before the storm, because the "double trouble" in the book's title means twins.

" 'It is brothers,' Anna Hibiscus tells her cousins. 'That big bump was brothers.' " The trouble begins right away. The very first day, Mama is too tired for her morning cuddle with Anna, and Uncle Bizi, who always makes her ogi (a pudding-like cereal) for Sunday breakfast with Grandmother, is busy cooking for Mama. Grandmother is sleeping, because she was up all night helping with the birth of the baby boys. Anna thinks "More trouble!" in what becomes a refrain of sorts. Anna Hibiscus is getting mad. When she finally bursts into tears--"Everybody is busy with Double Trouble!"--her dad laughs, kindly, explains that she'll have to share the family with her new brothers and lovingly embraces the wriggling, protesting girl. Soon enough, her ogi is ready, her Grandmother's awake, and Mama even has time to cuddle. In fact, when her baby brothers start crying, Anna rallies around to kiss and comfort them: "Don't cry, little Trouble" and "Don't cry, little Double."

Lauren Tobia's joyful, thoroughly charming illustrations, with their soft, textured lines and rich, festive colors--often with lively African prints on clothes and blankets--reflect the warmth of a close-knit extended family in the face of "double trouble." --Karin Snelson, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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