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Too Small Tola by Atinuke and illustrated by Onyinye Iwu

I am always on the lookout for great chapter books to share with children who have progressed beyond early readers, but are not yet ready for the sophistication and length of middle grade novels. Too Small Tola is a chapter book divided into three stories that tell about Tola and her life living in Lagos, Nigeria with her sister, brother, and Grandmommy. 

These are a few of the characteristics that make Too Small Tola a fantastic choice for chapter book readers:

  • Tola is an endearing character. She is the youngest in her family and the smallest, but she is full of determination and heart. She proves she is not too small for a big task, stands up to a bully, and shows kindness as she helps a neighbor. Tola’s family members are equally enjoyable characters.
  • The writing pulls readers into the world of Tola and her life in a big city in Nigeria. There is rich figurative language throughout the book, such as, “But through the open window, carried on air as hot as pepper soup, come the sounds of boys playing football,” and “But Tola can see his legs tremble like  an antelope being stalked by a lion.” Details throughout the book give readers a sense of the setting and insight into Tola’s culture.
  • Each of the three stories are short and illustrations are included throughout the book to make it an accessible read for chapter book readers. The black and white illustrations support the descriptions of life in Tola’s city of Lagos. 
  • There are important lessons embedded within each of the stories. Many readers will be able to connect their own life experiences and feelings to those of Tola’s and easily understand the lessons.

Too Small Tola is a delightful read from an Own Voices author, as well as an Own Voices illustrator. Atinuke shares her excitement for the book, which will be a series, and reads an excerpt in this video on her Facebook page.

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