Published on March 04, 2022
Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker and April Harrison
Reviewed by Elizabeth DeVincenzo
It’s Grandparents Day and Zura and her classmates are asked to bring their grandparents to school to share what makes them special. Zura’s grandmother is from the African country of Ghana and she is Zura’s favorite person in the world. She gives hugs “that wrap around you like a sweater”. Even though her feet don’t reach the floor, “she seems as tall as the giant playground slide and is filled to the brim with stories about growing up in West Africa”. When Nana Akua was young, her parents followed the African tradition of putting marks on her face to show what tribal family she belonged to and to represent beauty and confidence. Because of this, people often stare and judge Nana Akua because she looks different. Zura is hesitant to bring Nana Akua to school because she doesn’t want people to laugh or act mean towards her. Nana Akua decides the best way to explain the marks on her face would be to bring Zura’s favorite quilt to school. The quilt has patterns and symbols that reflect another African tradition similar to the marks on Nana Akua’s face. Nana Akua’s visit is a success. She explains to Zura’s class why she has marks on her face and what they mean. She brings special make-up and lets the children decide what special symbols they would like painted on their faces. The children pick the symbols from Zura’s quilt each relating to their personalities. This picture book promotes inclusion and tolerance. It demonstrates how not to be afraid of “something different” but to learn and accept that differences are what makes everyone unique and special. An excellent read-aloud for classrooms and one-on- one sharing, especially between grandmothers and their grandchildren. An excellent resource to use in the classroom during Black History Month and Women’s History Month. Included is a list of Adinkra symbols and their meanings, a glossary, and sources.
Target audience: Ages 4-8