You probably say that 10 times a day. You want to show her something, ask a question or just get Mom to see what you’re doing. Sometimes, it’s hard to get her attention, but if you’re like the little girl in “Splash, Anna Hibiscus!” you might go ahead and have fun without it.
It was a beautiful, sunny day on a beach in Africa. That’s where Anna Hibiscus lives, and it’s where her whole family was relaxing.
Everybody was having fun. Papa was with Uncle Tunde, and they were visiting with fishermen. Some of the cousins were on their phones, some were playing soccer, and Chocolate was dumping sand on Angel. Even Mama was busy.
Anna Hibiscus watched the ocean waves as they splashed and laughed. She wanted so much to splash, too, and she wanted everyone else to come with her!
She asked Angel and Chocolate, but they were digging in the sand. They invited Anna Hibiscus to play in the sand with them, but that’s not what she wanted to do.
She asked Benz and Wonderful to splash with her in the waves, but they didn’t even hear her. They were playing ball with beach boys and that wasn’t what Anna Hibiscus wanted to do, either.
She asked her girl cousins if they would like to go play in the waves, but Clarity, Joy and Common Sense said they were messing with their phones and were “too big now for playing.” Anna Hibiscus didn’t want to hear “too big,” so she stomped away to watch the laughing waves some more.
Mama was braiding hair. Auntie Joli was working beneath an umbrella. Auntie Grace was cooking corn. Papa was standing by a boat, deep in conversation and everybody knows that men don’t stop talking. Even Grandmother and Grandfather were busy asleep beneath their newspapers.
Anna Hibiscus looked at the waves again. She wanted to splash in them. They wanted to splash with her, too. They were laughing and dancing. She started laughing, too.
And then Anna Hibiscus jumped….
It’s been a long and difficult winter. On many occasions, I’ll bet you dreamed of tropical things. So maybe now’s the time to put sand between your toes, the sound of ocean in your ears and “Splash, Anna Hibiscus!” in your hands.
If you can’t tell by looking at the cover of this cute book, there’s a lot of joy in the story of a little girl who just wants to play in the water. Author Atinuke and illustrator Lauren Tobia, in fact, make this one of the happiest books you’ll ever read to your children: there’s no pouting, no whining, just glee in what lies beyond the sand.
Just one caveat: careful parents of 3- to 7-year-olds might want to have a “don’t go in the water alone” talk while reading this book. Do that, then immerse yourselves in the delight of this adorable story. For both of you, “Splash, Anna Hibiscus!” is a book you’ll look at again and again.
View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of books for teens and children weekly.