Double Trouble for Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke & Lauren Tobia, published by Walker Books is a gorgeous story about the arrival of a set of twin boys.
Early one morning, Anna Hibiscus’s father wakes her up to show her a surprise… Her mother is sitting in bed with not one, but two new babies! Anna Hibiscus tells her cousins the news who tell her that two boys mean “Big Trouble!” Anna Hibiscus starts to wonder if this is true as suddenly everyone is too busy for her; her mama is sleeping so she can’t have a cuddle, her Uncle Bizi Sunday hasn’t made her breakfast as he’s too busy cooking for Anna’s mother and her aunties don’t need her help as they’re busy rocking the babies.
Poor Anna Hibiscus, she decides that the babies really are trouble, “Double Trouble!” She is sad and cross and starts to cry but her papa soon finds her to comfort her and show how she can share her family with her new brothers.
A new baby in a family is a huge change for anyone but it must be so strange for a young child who probably isn’t able to fully understand how they are feeling let alone try and discuss it. The child-centred narrative in this book manages to reflect this well; there is a lovely line when Anna Hibiscus goes to tell her cousins about the twins, she tells them: “That big bump was brothers.”
Anna Hibiscus’s reaction to the reality of becoming a sibling is handled so beautifully. Her papa is caring and understanding whilst also remaining honest.
There is a double page spread that is both emotionally raw and tender at the same time. The one line of language acts as a stark reminder for adults of just how devastated a young child might feel.
Of course, as you would expect Anna Hibiscus’s family work hard to make sure she feels just as loved and secure as she always has been.
Illustrated in soft colours, we are offered a glimpse of home and family life in Africa. Beautifully detailed from the fabrics, clothes and plants to the layout of a home and the involvement of extended family.
This is a perfect book to share with a new big brother or sister, whether they are welcoming one sibling or more like Anna Hibiscus. It would also be a great talking point for discovering what life is like in Africa.
You can find out more about Atinuke and her stories on her website here.
You can see more of Lauren Tobia’s artwork on her website here.