I discovered the Akimbo series during my bookseller’s days; needless to say I devoured all the books I could put my hands on, and I warmly recommended them to customers. From what I recall Akimbo sold fairly well. Correct me if I’m wrong, but except for Scholastic series the Royal Diaries, I cant think of many early reader books or chapter book series where cultural diversity is represented. If you have titles that I might have missed, please, leave me a comment. I can’t wait to hear about them!
Before giving you the fact sheet: Bloomsbury came under fire recently because of a mishap on a children’s book cover, which has now been corrected by the way. I know they publish several other multicultural books, though I don’t know all their titles. I thought it would be fair to acknowledge this particular cover as well. I’ve always liked the Akimbo ones. Akimbo is too cute!
Now the fact sheet:
McCall Smith, Alexander. Akimbo & the Lions. Bloomsbury, 2005
Genre: Early Reader, series
Summary: Akimbo lives in an animal reserve, and his dad is a national guard. Akimbo obviously loves animals, and often tags along when his dad is working. The series follow Akimba in his daily life. We see him handling school, house chores, sometimes having a hard time listening to his parents like any other kid would. 😀 There is strong emphasis on preserving wild life, and as such the conflicts in the books often include going against poachers and the likes. Akimbo always comes up with the smartest ideas. He kicks behinds! (Am I allowed to say that?)
Application: Great read, lots of fascinating information about life in a reserve and animals. The books offer a wonderful platform for discussions about endangered species with the family or in the classroom.
Age: 7-8 & up
About the illustrator: Beautifully illustrated by LeUyen Pham, a San Francisco local, who had her own adventures in Africa (as she would fondly recall them during her public readings). Uyen’s work would have you travel from cultures to cultures. She is a versatile artist.
About the author: Well, Alexander McCall Smith doesn’t really need an introduction, does he? 🙂 He is the author of the bestselling series the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, which is also a HBO TV series; he has written over 60 books. McCall Smith was born in Zimbabwe, and grew up both there and in Scotland. He lived and worked in Botswana, helping set up a law school there. Most of his books are set in Africa, most of his characters, like Akimbo, are African. His biography is fascinating, and you can read more about him on his website (click on his name, above), where you will be greeted with a cheerful African music.
Merry Wednesday and happy reading,