Sunday, December 28, 2014

Figgy in the world all you need is a plan and courage by Tamsin Janu

There are three things I need to say first of all about Figgy in the world.  Firstly I nearly did not read this because I do not like the cover (I am happy to say I have now changed my mind).  Secondly I predict this book will be short listed for our CBCA awards in 2015 which means quite obviously and thirdly I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

We meet Figgy on the first page of this book and I was immediately struck by her strong character and her unique voice. "I am the only person named Figgy in my village.  Probably the only Figgy in Ghana.  Maybe the only one in Africa.  And possibly, by the smallest chance, I might be the only person named Figgy in the World.  But that cannot be true.  I don't know much about The World. I don't know much about the people in it either.  But I do know that The World is big."

The world is certainly very big but this does not deter Figgy.  She knows her Grandma Ama is gravely ill.  Figgy has no confidence in the abilities of the local doctor and so she embarks on a journey to America where they have good doctors and medicines.  She takes her goat Kwame as a travelling companion.  In a very touching scene near the beginning of the book her friends kindly give her the little money they have and Figgy knows she "can walk for miles without getting tired."

Figgy does not know much about the world and has no idea about the distance to America. She makes some good friends particularly a boy called Nana who helps her with this important journey but Figgy also experiences some truly dreadful setbacks.  Very early in her journey all her money is lost after she falls into some mud. Later Nana is almost kidnapped.  As their journey continues Kwame is hit by a taxi and the children meet a man called Kofi.  This meeting will lead to a tremendous change of fortune for our two young heroes and an ending that may leave you slightly breathless.

Here are some very detailed teachers notes. Here is a short and very positive review in our Australian journal Reading Time.  Here is a video where the author Tamsin Janu talks about her book and her experiences in Ghana.

If you enjoy meeting Figgy as much as I did I recommend looking for the series of books about Anna Hibiscus and also a very old book called Callie and the Prince.  You would also enjoy Oranges in no man's land and Journey to Jo'burg.

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