On Our Shelves Now
Three delightful tales from a renowned Nigerian storyteller introduce a chapter-book heroine who is every bit as mighty as she is small.
In a trio of droll stories, award-winning author and storyteller Atinuke debuts an endearing and enduring character with plenty to prove. Tola lives in an apartment in the busy city of Lagos, Nigeria, with her sister, Moji, who is very clever; her brother, Dapo, who is very fast; and Grandmommy, who is very bossy. Tola may be small, but she’s strong enough to carry a basket brimming with groceries home from the market, and she’s clever enough to count out Grandmommy’s change. When the faucets in the apartment break, it’s Tola who brings water from the well. And when Mr. Abdul, the tailor, has an accident and needs help taking his customers’ measurements, only Tola can save the day. Atinuke’s trademark wit and charm are on full display, accompanied by delightful illustrations by Onyinye Iwu. Too Small Tola evokes the urban bustle and rich blending of cultures in Lagos through the eyes of a little girl with an outsize will—and an even bigger heart.
About the Author
Atinuke was born in Nigeria and spent her childhood in both Africa and the United Kingdom. She is the author of the Anna Hibiscus series and Africa, Amazing Africa; Baby Goes to Market; B Is for Baby; and Catch That Chicken! Atinuke lives in Wales.
Onyinye Iwu was born in Italy to Nigerian parents and moved to England when she was thirteen. She is a designer, illustrator, and educator. Too Small Tola is her first book for children. She lives in London.
Tola is small, but she is mighty. In three episodic chapters, Tola uses her not-inconsequential perseverance to help her grandmother, other family members, and those in her wider Lagos community. . . Atinuke’s writing is rich with imagery and replicates the music and rhythm of Tola’s daily life. The stories are copiously illustrated with line drawings of a round-faced, appealingly welcoming protagonist. The friendly format, universal emotional truths, helpful illustrations, and strong writing work together to immerse young readers in Tola’s world.
—The Horn Book (starred review)
A young girl learns that she doesn’t have to be big to make a difference. . .This collection of stories is perfect for transitioning readers, with its manageable chapters, clear, plain language, simple sentence structures, wry sense of humor, and realistic illustrations of the diverse Nigerian cast. . . An enjoyable, endearing collection.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
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”. . . 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. . .Evoking all five senses to render contemporary Nigeria, the creators celebrate the beauty of daily life through Tola’s joy, wonder, and perseverance.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Nigerian-born children’s author Atinuke introduces a memorable new heroine in Too Small Tola. . .Atinuke is a masterful storyteller, playing with language and rhythm as she evokes Tola’s world. Every sentence is fun to read. . . Too Small Tola’s gentle morals linger with an unusually satisfying combination of inevitability and surprise. . . Onyinye Iwu renders Tola and her family in endearing and expressive images that capture their personalities perfectly. Too Small Tola will make readers eager to read more about Tola; Lagos is clearly bursting with more stories to tell.
—BookPage (starred review)
Tola, a young girl who lives in Lagos, Nigeria, with her Grandmommy, brother and sister, shares what her life is like in this #OwnVoices early chapter book. . . Atinuke's use of Nigerian words throughout, accompanied by Onyinye Iwu's illustrations, immerse readers in Nigerian culture. . . Atinuke uses child-friendly, entertaining dialogue and incorporates accessible themes such as bullying and helping others in need. Her inclusion of rounded and well-developed secondary characters also helps Tola recognize that strength might not necessarily come from the muscles, but the heart.
—Shelf Awareness (starred review)
Everyone in Tola’s apartment complex in Lagos thinks she is too small to be of any use, but in this three-chapter easy reader, the girl proves them wrong time and again. . . Tola will be relatable to any youngster who has had to prove themselves to the big kids (or grownups). . . a must have for easy reader collections in need of cultural diversity.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Living in Nigeria with her grandmother and siblings, Moji and Dapo, is not always easy for Tola. The family’s apartment is small and in need of a makeover, not to mention that the electricity and water situation is unpredictable. But through it all, young Tola shows she can be a big influence. . . Throughout the story we see evidence of Tola’s tight-knit and diverse community. An appropriate and enjoyable beginning chapter book for young readers who are transitioning from picture books.
—School Library Journal
In this collection of three short stories, Tola is able to use her small stature, quick counting skills, and measuring skills to not only overcome adversity, but also make her community better. . . . These stories are filled with hope, with themes of overcoming challenges and gratitude. Although some readers will have a hard time understanding the conditions in which Tola lives (sharing a bed with her sister and Grandmommy, waking up to no water or power), these stories will give them insight into daily life in another part of the world, and the messages are universal.
—School Library Connection
Each of the three chapters in Atinuke’s book for young readers acts as an episodic short story involving Tola, her two older siblings (Dapo and Moji), and their fierce but loving grandmother. . .This pleasant read will introduce readers to other lifestyles and Nigerian culture. . . Tola is likable, her family relatable, and Iwu’s cartoon illustrations will help kids puzzle out unfamiliar words
'Too Small Tola' has a diminutive heroine, but it’s a big charmer and treats its newly capable readers with a respect that will make them feel knowledgeable and sophisticated.
—The Wall Street Journal
You’d have to practice for a very long while to duplicate the calculated degree of heart and the humor embedded in an Atinuke title. I know Atinuke can’t keep producing these books forever, but for as long as she can, let us hope that she does.
—A Fuse #8 Production
Alive with unfamiliar, colorful words, this illustrated chapter book will broaden young readers' views of the world.
—The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette