Two Chapter Books about Africa by Atinuke

Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke is a series of short chapter books (actually related short stories) about a young girl’s lifestyle in Africa and her family.  I really enjoyed Anna’s playful and delightful personality. She is a character to enjoy. Her large family living in an African city is quite different from those of children in the USA, and I think that is a fabulous way for kids to get to know another culture. Even Anna herself must earn about her own privilege in the course of this first book: she decides to make money selling the oranges from her family’s tree, only to learn that the street children have become even more impoverished because she has taken away their own livelihood. Anna Hibiscus is the first in a series of four books. Others include Hooray for Anna Hibiscus!; Good Luck, Anna Hibiscusand Have Fun, Anna HibiscusPicture book stories have also been written for the youngest of children as well, including Anna Hibiscus’ Song; Splash, Anna Hibiscus; and a new release, Double Trouble for Anna Hibiscus.

The No. 1 Car Spotter by Atinuke places a young boy in a rural African setting. Once again, I love how the life he lives is so different and eye-opening to the American child. The boy, known as No. 1 Car-Spotter, spends his free time watching for cars on the main road by his town. He is so good at spotting cars that he can often name the car only by hearing the engine! In this first volume, No. 1 saves the day when the family’s wagon breaks and they need to get their goods to the market. My son is eager to read The No. 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird, a sequel to this volume.

I am a new independent consultant for Usborne Books and More, which provides these books for those in the USA! If you are interested in these books, send me a note at books at rebeccareid.com and I will send you a free copy of one of these when you book a qualifying book party (on Facebook!).

Precious Ramatowe Mysteries

Two years ago, I wrote about how much I enjoyed the first of the Precious Ramotswe Mysteries, a new series by Alexander McCall-Smith sharing the childhood mysteries featuring Precious Ramotswe, the future Ladies’ Detective. I enjoyed the second and third in the series as well. Simple mysteries give the young children reading a chance to feel like detectives themselves, and the limited number of chapters and simple writing give them confidence in their reading abilities.

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Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo

Rejoice! Deckawoo Drive, home street of the beloved pig Mercy Watson, is now open to stories once again! My son loves Mercy Watson, and every time he rereads the series (he’s read them all 5 or 6 times, I think), he asks, “Has this author written any more about Mercy Watson? I want more!”

It is easy to see why. First off, Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson books are humorous (they star a pig, of course). In what other stories do beds nearly fall through the floor and pigs go trick or treating? Besides that, the reading level is perfect for beginning readers, those who have just barely graduated out of the easy readers. The books have short sentences, short chapters, and clear dialogue and description. Plus, the Mercy Watson books have been illustrated by the marvelous Chris Van Dusen, which only adds humor and interest to the stories.


Leroy Ninker Saddles Up (Tales from Deckawoo Drive Number 1) by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press, August 26, 2014) is the first of a new series of stories relating to Mercy Watson. Although our favorite “porcine wonder” only makes a cameo at the end, the star of the show is Mercy’s friend Leroy Ninker, who works at the drive-in theater. (He previously appeared in Mercy Watson #6.)Continue Reading