The first thing that drew me towards this book are its beautiful illustrations. Handa’s Surprise is a book about a Kenyan girl named Handa who wants to visit her friend Akeyo.
But she did not wish to go empty-handed and thus decided to visit him with a basket full of seven different fruits as presents. Along the way to Akeyo’s village, Handa contemplates which fruit Akeyo will like the best. However, each time Handa thinks about a certain fruit an animal pops along and takes that particular fruit. Handa is unaware that animals she is passing are taking fruit out of the basket. Eventually the basket becomes empty but an antelope chasing her runs in to a tree as Handa walks beneath it and fills the basket with tangerines. Much to Handa’s Surprise, Tangerines are Akeyo’s favourite fruit.
This book works because it has a multicultural theme. Eileen Browne does a magnificent job incorporating various themes of Africa into one book. A lot of activities can be presented to the child using this one book. You can discuss Africa as a continent and it’s climate, vegetation, agriculture and people, where do our fruits and vegetables come from and their specific regions of growth, vegetable and fruit printing as an art activity, pick a fruit and discuss the 5 senses (how it looks, feels, tastes, smells), take your child to the supermarket and purchase fruits, numeracy in terms of costing of the fruits and many more.
This book is suitable for children in the age group of 3 and above.
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