Too Small Tola

Tola, a young girl who lives in Lagos, Nigeria, with her Grandmommy, brother and sister, shares what her life is like in this early chapter book. Atinuke uses wit and exactly the right amount of light-heartedness to bring each character in Too Small Tola to exuberant life.

Atinuke's use of Nigerian words throughout, accompanied by Onyinye Iwu's illustrations, immerses readers in Nigerian culture. The grayscale illustrations are stylized with realistic elements: characters wear traditional African garments such as wrap-around skirts, head scarves and dashikis, and have natural hairstyles--braids, puffs and afros. Iwu's focus on expressive faces and body language adds realism to the work, as does her attention to setting. Atinuke uses child-friendly, entertaining dialogue and incorporates accessible themes such as bullying and helping others in need. Her inclusion of rounded and well-developed secondary characters also helps tiny Tola recognize that strength might come not necessarily from the muscles, but the heart. --Kharissa Kenner, children's librarian, Bank Street School for Children

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