cover image Too Small Tola

Too Small Tola

Atinuke, illus. by Onyinye Iwu. Candlewick, $15.99 (96p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1127-6

In this winning trio of stories, Atinuke (Catch That Chicken!) introduces readers to counting whiz Tola, who lives with her family in “a run-down block of apartments in the megacity of Lagos, in the country of Nigeria.” Tola shares a small apartment with her brainy older sister Moji, her soccer star older brother Dapo, and her industrious (“very-very bossy”) grandmother, who is raising the children while their father works abroad. Though “everybody calls her Too Small Tola, which makes her feel too-too small,” Tola is eager to prove herself. Detailed grayscale illustrations by Iwu accompany the text, enlivening the characters alongside Atinuke’s quick conversational text. Though class dynamics are prominent in Tola’s life, the stories continually affirm the value of community care: when a neighbor runs out of diapers, Tola brings back more from the market, despite her already heavy basket; when an injury jeopardizes the neighborhood tailor’s work during the Eid festival and Easter celebrations, Tola and Dapo travel through the city to collect measurements. Evoking all five senses to render contemporary Nigeria, the creators celebrate the beauty of daily life through Tola’s joy, wonder, and perseverance. Ages 7–9. [em](Mar.) [/em]