#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Books Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Meet Bright-Eyed, Night-Skinned Girls Afiya and Africa

"A Story About Afiya" by James Berry and Anna Cunha | "Fly" by Brittany J. Thurman and Anna Cunha.


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date).


For 2022, our reading theme is #DecolonizeBookshelves2022. Essentially, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:

  1. Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
  2. Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
  3. Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
  4. Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized

A Story About Afiya (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by James Berry Illustrated by Anna Cunha
Published by Lantana Publishing (2020)
ISBN: 1911373455 (ISBN13: 9781911373452) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

The story starts off with the Swahili meaning of the name Afiya which signifies health, and a lovely description of this nimble young girl:

Afiya has fine black skin that shows off her white clothes and big brown eyes that laugh and long limbs that play.

As the story progresses, the reader realizes that Afiya actually owns only one white dress, which she washes every night and hangs up to dry to wear again the following day.

Yet, this isn’t a story about deprivation or want. Rather, it is a story of beauty, poetry, and the variety of things that magically fuse into the single white dress as Afiya goes about her day:

There is a sense of unmatched equilibrium and joy in Afiya that warmed my heart as a reader. I hope Afiya and her white dress finds you soon.

The Author’s Bio indicates James Berry being a celebrated Jamaican poet who lived in the UK when he was still alive. Anna Cunha is a Brazilian artist – and this book has made me a fan of her work.

Fly (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Brittany J. Thurman Illustrator Anna Cunha
Published by Atheneum / Caitlin Dlouhy Books (2022) ISBN: 153445487X (ISBN13: 9781534454873)
Borrowed via Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

Africa has a birthmark in the shape of her name. In the classroom, down the hall, out the front door – her birthmark leads the way.

Talk about captivating first lines. I had to google the map of Africa (I am geographically challenged) and I found the birthmark in this full page spread illustrated by Anna Cunha.

When Africa learned about a double dutch competition in their school, and her older brother telling her that a competition means that you get to show the world what you are made of, Africa became determined to enter this competition.

However, there was one teeny-tiny problem: she didn’t know how to double dutch. I was entertained by the above full page spread showing how Africa is resolute in teaching herself to “focus” and double-dutch by reading instructional books and figuring things out on her own.

I also enjoyed seeing how Africa reached out to her many friends to ask for guidance and help – except that her friends also had no clue how to double-dutch, but there were other things that they could teach her – which Africa was happy to know more about.

Whether Africa has indeed learned how to fly and show the world what she is made of, I shall leave for you to discover. Africa was not just singularly-focused on her goal, she knew how the many other things she has learned – not necessarily connected to double-dutch – all made her grow and helped her in becoming who she wanted to be – at least at this point in time. Beautiful story.

#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 67/68 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

2 comments on “[Monday Reading] Meet Bright-Eyed, Night-Skinned Girls Afiya and Africa

  1. Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf

    I love that you paired up two picture books illustrated by the same artist, Myra! A Story About Afiya is one I just added to my list, and Fly looks beautiful as well. Thanks so much for the thoughtful reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for sharing both these books today. I have added both to my list and to make me even happier, both are available locally!

    Liked by 1 person

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