The Blurb On The Back:
”Allow me to introduce myself.” But he needed no introduction.
“Anansi the spider!” said Anansi the boy. “The tales were true!”
Kweku has grown up hearing stories about the mischievous spider, Anansi. Kweku’s father gave him the nickname Anansi because of his similarly cheeky ways.
On a holiday to visit his beloved Nana in Ghana, Anansi the boy meets Anansi the spider who shows him a magical pot that can be filled with whatever he wants. Will he learn to share this wonderful gift?
ANANSI AND THE GOLDEN POT was released in the United Kingdom on 6th January 2022. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
Anansi is a little boy who lives with his mum and dad, sister and brother in a city but every winter they go to Ghana to see his grandmother, who makes his all time favourite food: a stew of beans and fried plantain called red-red. Anansi’s real name is Kweku, but his dad nick named him Anansi after the clever, trickster spider with a twinkle and Anansi loves his nick name almost as much as he loves hearing stories of the spider’s adventures.
This winter, when Anansi and his family go to Ghana, Anansi has a little adventure of his own. He meets the real Anansi who gifts him a magical pot which, when the right words are spoken to it, gives the speaker the thing that he most desires. Anansi is warned that he must share what he loves with those he loves most but he would rather keep the pot for himself because then he can have red-red whenever he wants, even though there are consequences to being selfish …
Taiye Selasi’s first picture book (boldly and beautifully illustrated by Tinuke Fagborun) takes the traditional Akan character of Anansi and weaves him into a clever tale of family and the importance of being generous while also introducing children to the food and folklore of Ghana. It’s an entertaining read that parents will enjoy with their little ones and I particularly enjoyed the illustrations of Anansi himself, with his dapper outfit.
I particularly enjoyed the emphasis of family in this book, both through the way Anansi’s father tells stories to him and the closeness he has with his nana. Also great is the way Selasi and Fagborun show Anansi enjoying his time in Ghana because there are so many things for him to do and this is definitely a great advert for Ghanaian food (with author and illustrator giving some more examples at the end) and throughout the pages they drop in Adinkra symbols for readers to spot (again, giving their various meanings at the end).
Selasi is non-judgmental of Anansi for being selfish and not sharing the gift, focusing on the benefits of being generous rather than inviting readers to condemn him. Special mention must be made of Fagborun’s illustrations, which are glorious – rich in colour and emotion and filled with great little details, from the portraits of the family to the hidden presence of the trickster Anansi himself on many of the pages (and I adored his natty outfit of shirt and hat).
All in all, this is a really great picture book that little ones and their parents are bound to come back to again and again and it’s especially good if you don’t have Ghanaian heritage and want to introduce your children to a different culture. I would absolutely love to see Selasi and Fagborun team up again and will definitely check out what they each do next.