Anna Hibiscus' Song
written by Atinuke; illustrated by Lauren Tobia
2011 (Kane Miller)
Source: Review copy provided by publisher
Anna Hibiscus is so happy that she isn't quite sure what to do with herself. Living in amazing Africa with her extended family brings so much joy. Grandfather suggests that she hold her hand out and count the reasons why she is so happy. There are simply not enough fingers to hold Anna's happiness. Other family members give suggestions (e.g. dancing, helping pound yams) and each one increases Anna's joy, but none of them feels exactly right. Finally, Anna's mother mentions that she likes to sit still and quiet when she is happy. Anna tries this and something wonderful happens. She hears the birds and they inspire her to create a song. This is the outlet for her happiness that Anna has been seeking.
I am delighted that the character of Anna Hibiscus is now appearing in a picture book. The chapter books are favorites of mine and this book will be equally appealing to younger readers who are not familiar with Anna. Students know all about being happy and will be able to easily make connections. This would be a great opportunity to channel those thoughts through a graphic organizer like a bubble map or to create a book of all the things that make us happy. For beginning writers, this would be an engaging activity. I also love that the setting of the book is a place that is unfamiliar to most students and therefore a fresh perspective. Anna Hibiscus' Song is a terrific introduction to a beloved character.