Book Title: A Story About Afiya (available here)
Author: James Berry
Illustrator: Anna Cunha
Publication Date: October 2020
Most Suitable For: KS1-Y3
Reviewed By: Jenny Holder
Afiya has fine black skin, big brown eyes and a white cotton dress. She wears this dress every day and washes it at night so that it's ready for the morning. A Story About Afiya depicts the almost magical experiences that a beloved item of clothing brings to its young owner. In this beautiful picture book, the title character’s white dress becomes a canvas for the experiences that she has each day. Glorious sunflowers, delicate butterflies and fierce tigers all become imprinted onto her dress. The words by celebrated Jamaican poet James Berry OBE are a celebration of childhood and memory. Afiya's dress collects the natural wonders that she sees and passes each day- flowers, fish, stones. It encourages children to think about what amazing features of the natural world they would collect if they had clothing like Afiya. This could be used to inspire nature walks, sketchbook work and descriptive poetry so that the children can capture their favourite aspects of nature as Afiya’s dress does.
Anna Cunha’s artwork reflects the focus on colour and pattern within Berry’s poetic writing. The soft pastel background creates a magical almost wistful atmosphere, perfect to showcase the passing of days as shown by the images on Afiya’s dress. There is much to inspire focused art lessons in this book. Anna Cunha uses pattern beautifully, capturing pigeons in flying formation, stretches of fish-filled sea, falling Autumn leaves and piles of towering boulders. Pupils could explore using repeated shapes and colours through printmaking. A Story About Afiya is a beautiful book about the wonder and magic of noticing and celebrating what we found around us. The gentle use of magic realism helps readers to identify what is magical and special about their own natural surroundings.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Jenny for reviewing it.
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