A TRIANGLE FOR ADAORA by Ifeomoa Onyefulu


An African Book of Shapes
Age Range: 3 - 8
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When Adaora, a little girl of about five, declares that she will not eat paw-paw because to do so would ruin the pretty star-shape in the middle, her cousin Ugo takes her on a quest through their village to find a triangle. Only then, Adaora says, will she eat paw-paw again. The children see shapes aplenty in the objects around them—diamonds on a woman’s wrapper, circles in the elephant drums, a rectangle formed by their uncle’s outstretched arms in his agbada robe—but triangles prove to be elusive until at last they spot their aunt’s triangular headdress. Onyefulu’s (Chidi Only Likes Blue: An African Book of Colors, not reviewed, etc.) photographs of people and objects are colorful and winsome, and sidebars explain the native plants or traditional objects used to form the shapes—about the crescent-shaped plantains: “These look like bananas, but they are really vegetables.” What could otherwise be a charming photo essay is fatally marred by a clunky text (“The musicians were good. So we listened, and when they had finished, we followed them”) and a ridiculously contrived story. How is it that Adaora has reached the ripe old age of five without having ever encountered the concept of square? The notion of teaching shapes through multicultural encounter is praiseworthy, but the book’s subtitle is disingenuous at best, as this “African book of shapes” ventures no further than one unspecified village, and the culture depicted is never identified. Give this one a miss. (Picture book/nonfiction. 3-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-525-46382-8
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2000