Review Blog

Sep 26 2014

Figgy in the world: All you need is a plan and courage by Tamsin Janu

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Omnibus Books, 2014. ISBN 9781742990453.
(Age: 9-12) Highly recommended. Africa. Ghana. Poverty. Optimism. Journeys. When Figgy's grandmother becomes ill, she decides she will go to America and find the medicine that she needs. Without further ado, she sets out. She has no idea of life beyond her small village where her grandmother looks after her, after being abandoned by her mother. She has a simple plan and putting one foot after the other, finds enough friends along the way to help her and keep her courage high. As readers, we know she will be beset by trials and hurdles, and always at the back of our minds is the question about where she will end up. She is only ten, a skinny little kid with her best friend, a goat, and much determination. She has her money stolen, is helped by strangers, finds a traveling companion in Nana, a boy of her own age who is running away from the orphanage, and comes through it all with a heart untroubled by the vicissitudes of life. And as the reader we are privy to a small part of Africa about which we read little. Figgy's background and that of the other children she meets is astonishing, and the setting is simply there to inform and educate the readers without them feeling they are being preached to.
I heartily recommend this book to middle to upper primary readers, for a taste of a culture so unlike out own, for a look at children's lives so dissimilar, and a look at a country half a world away. This would make a fabulous read-aloud and form an outstanding addition to the novels to be read as part of the Geography Curriculum strategies.
Fran Knight

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