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Ten Questions with Atinuke

A photograph of Atinuke, an author who wrote a book celebrating African identity.

Atinuke writes books about life in a West African country through the eyes of Anna Hibiscus. Being born south-west Nigeria herself, Atinuke’s heartfelt portrayal of this region is true to her own experiences. Atinuke’s story-telling is rich and colourful. Her books are a great remedy for misconceptions about ‘African life’. 

  1. Why did you start writing/illustrating books for children?

I was working as an oral storyteller before becoming an author. I started writing books in response to a question children were always asking me at school events. “What was it like growing up in Africa?” They seemed to know so little about the continent, and be so curious… Stories seemed the best way to answer!

  1. How did you get your book out into the world?

I made a pile of all my favourite picture books and divided them up by publisher. I ended up with four piles that were much bigger than the others. Then, I sent my stories to those four publishers. And got an acceptance letter from Walker Books!

  1. Why did you write this book? Why did you want to illustrate this story?

In this particular book – Go Well Anna Hibiscus – I wanted to show some of the differences between city life and country life in Nigeria – and also to touch on the hilarity – and uncomfortableness – of public transport!

  1. Do you relate to any characters in your stories – which ones and in what way?

Anna Hibiscus lives the life I wish I had lived as a child.

  1. What’s your favourite book and why?

My favourite book is “The Brothers Lionheart” by Astrid Lindgren. It is brave, and bold and does not shy away from the hard issues that even children have to face. My favourite book by myself is “The No.1 Car Spotter and the Car Thieves.” It is a great adventure and detective story!

  1. What did you want to be when you grew up?

An author!

  1. What do you want children to get from your books?

A sense of the wonder and colour and wisdom and complexity of Africa. And a sense that although our cultures are wonderfully different we all face the same issues – and long to be loved and belong and thrive.

  1. Best advice you’ve ever been given?

It’s better to be happy than to be right.

  1. Finish this sentence for us…Reading from diverse bookshelves….

….Fills me with awe for the richness of this world.

  1. A message to readers of your book?

Enjoy!

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To purchase Go well, Anna Hibiscus, and learn about what it means to be African, click here.

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