Nana Akua Goes to School (Hardcover)
On Our Shelves Now
Winner of the 2021 Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award!
In this moving story that celebrates cultural diversity, a shy girl brings her West African grandmother--whose face bears traditional tribal markings--to meet her classmates. This is a perfect read for back to school!
It is Grandparents Day at Zura's elementary school, and the students are excited to introduce their grandparents and share what makes them special. Aleja's grandfather is a fisherman. Bisou's grandmother is a dentist. But Zura's Nana, who is her favorite person in the world, looks a little different from other grandmas. Nana Akua was raised in Ghana, and, following an old West African tradition, has tribal markings on her face. Worried that her classmates will be scared of Nana--or worse, make fun of her--Zura is hesitant to bring her to school. Nana Akua knows what to do, though. With a quilt of traditional African symbols and a bit of face paint, Nana Akua is able to explain what makes her special, and to make all of Zura's classmates feel special, too.
About the Author
Tricia Elam Walker is the author of the novel Breathing Room, among other publications. She is an award-winning fiction and nonfiction writer, cultural and fashion commentator, and blogger who has written for National Public Radio, the Washington Post, Essence magazine, HuffPost, and more. She practiced law for sixteen years prior to teaching writing in Washington, DC, and Boston. Tricia is an assistant professor of Creative Writing at Howard University and is working on several projects, including children's books, plays, and a second novel.
April Harrison, a renowned folk artist, is the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award-winning illustrator of Patricia C. McKissack's final picture book, What Is Given from the Heart, which received four starred reviews and which the New York Times Book Review called an "exquisite story of generosity." Her work appears in the public collections of Vanderbilt University, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, the Atlanta Housing Authority, and the Erskine University Museum and in many private collections. Learn more at aprilsonggallery.com.
Praise for Nana Akua Goes to School:
“This lovely story explores the perennial fear of being different, while showcasing the great love between a grandparent and grandchild.” —School Library Journal, starred review
“An open-hearted tribute to children with immigrant parents or grandparents.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"This beautiful picture book offers a helpful perspective on cultural differences within a heartening family story." —Booklist, starred review
"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.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Offers viewers both the comfort of the familiar and, for those unfamiliar with West African arts, a tantalizing introduction to interpreting symbols. Most importantly, this calls for readers and listeners to have faith in youngsters to embrace a new concept with an open mind and enthusiastic spirit.” —The Bulletin
“Lucky for readers and for Zura, her grandmother has a fascinating cultural tradition that, in her first book for kids, Tricia Elam Walker presents with extraordinary grace and nimbleness. . . . [An] eye-opening picture book.” —Shelf Awareness
“A picture book . . . that captures a complex vulnerability that every child feels at one point or another.” —The Wall Street Journal
Praise for April Harrison's What Is Given From the Heart:
"[An] exquisite story of generosity. . . . Harrison has created soft yet dazzling illustrations for this tribute to faith, hope, and the African-American community." —The New York Times Book Review
"A sweet story . . . enhanced by delectable art from a prodigious new talent." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"This final book by the late McKissack (Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout) showcases the legendary author’s signature lyricism in full force and receives a stunning, aesthetically ambitious interpretation by Harrison, a fine artist making her picture book debut." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"What Is Given from the Heart is a loving tribute to collective work, responsibility and the joy that comes from giving freely from the heart." —Shelf Awareness, starred review
"A treasure from a marvelous storyteller." —School Library Journal, starred review