THE BIG CEREMONY by Ozi Okaro

THE BIG CEREMONY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In Okaro’s debut picture book, a 6-year-old Nigerian girl, keen to know more about her home country, follows a friend to Nigeria and takes part in a traditional wedding ceremony.

Cheta loves the fact that she is Nigerian but longs to know more about the unspecified country where her family came from. When her best friend, Kosi, shows her a beautiful traditional dress she had made for a cousin’s wedding, Cheta wishes she could join in the celebrations. Soon, the young girl plucks up the courage and asks Kosi whether she can go too; she’s delighted when her friend agrees. Now all she needs is a dress to rival Kosi’s. This bright, colorful picture book sets out to introduce one Nigerian custom in particular: the traditional wedding ceremony. The multicolored dresses, with their dazzling floral patterns, and the woven hats and patchwork scarves are brought to life in the cartoonish, colorful illustrations. Traditional food, including bowls of Jollof rice, yams and egusi soup, are also depicted, and the story exudes the simple spontaneous joy that children often feel on seeing something spectacular for the first time. Okaro chooses to omit quotation marks in dialogue, which makes speech between characters a bit odd. At times, the layout has an unpolished feel to it, but by book’s end, young readers, like Cheta, know a pleasing amount of information about Nigerian weddings—a sign that the author has succeeded. That said, those looking for a more elaborate investigation into Nigerian customs will need additional sources.

A gentle tale introducing Africa in all its colors; sure to appeal to young girls with an interest in multicultural fashion.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1500411954
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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