cover image Nana Akua Goes to School

Nana Akua Goes to School

Tricia Elam Walker, illus. by April Harrison. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-525-58113-0

Zura’s school is inviting grandparents to visit, and though her Ghanaian grandmother, Nana Akua, is “her favorite person in the whole universe,” Zura is worried that her tribal facial markings will draw unwanted attention. “What if someone at school laughs at you or acts mean?” the child asks. Harrison (What Is Given from the Heart) shows Zura reaching across the table to take Nana Akua’s big hand in her two small ones. Once in Zura’s classroom, Nana Akua speaks with poise. “I’m sure you noticed the marks on my face.... These marks were a gift from my parents, who were happy and proud that I was born.... I am likewise proud to wear them.” She paints Adinkra symbols on the faces of Zura’s classmates (a chart listing their meanings is included) in a visit that delights the children and their grandparents. Striking artwork by Harrison gives the characters’ faces classic sculptural contours, and the spreads’ bold patterns and colors echo a quilt of symbols that Nana Akua made for Zura. Newcomer Walker writes convincingly about how difference can cause unease among children, and her story offers a compelling portrait of a grandmother whose pride and poise put that concern to rest. Ages 4–8. [em](June) [/em]