Book Title: Too Small Tola (available here)
Illustrator: Onyinye Iwe
Publication Date: Jan 2020
Most Suitable For: Years 2-3
Reviewed By: Dr Jane Carter, Senior Lecturer in Primary Education
This story is set in a poorer part of Lagos, Nigeria and so gives an insight into the everyday life of a Nigerian family.
The story focuses on Tola, who is the youngest in the family and she is not only the youngest but she is also the smallest – although Grandmummy, who looks after the family is also very tiny. Each member of the family has their own distinctive characteristic – Moji, who studies hard and Dapo, who is obsessed with football.
The book has three chapters and each has a clear message for the reader. Even though Tola is small, Tola shows that she is both strong and determined in all situations but also kind and caring. The stories show how being kind to others often brings benefits. In one story Tola has soft drinks, ice-cream and doughnuts having carried home the heavy shopping of many of the people who live in the block of flats. In another story, her kindness helping Mrs Shaky-Shaky, an elderly resident of the flats she lives in, is repaid when the residents stand together against the bully boys who trip Tola up as she carries water back to her family. In the final story, Tola’s thoughtfulness for the tailor who breaks his leg and is unable to take measurements from his clients around the city, is repaid by the tailor making a beautiful outfit for Tola.
This book helps to diminish stereotypes of non-descript ‘African’ settings and replaces them with a clear picture of life for a family in Lagos. More importantly, the author skilfully crafts believable characters that appeal to all children and couples this with a message that goes beyond the national boundaries of the story setting.
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Jane for reviewing it.
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Language note for teachers: On page 11 the child Moji is called ‘Moji Big Breasts!’