Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country

Candlewick. Oct. 2021. 80p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781536205374.
Gr 2-5–A cheerful, browsable overview of Africa’s 55 countries (including Western Sahara). The brief introduction highlights the continent’s vast diversity of cultures, languages, climates, and geographies, as well as the major discoveries of its ancient civilizations. Divided into five sections by geographic region (north, east, west, central, and southern), each country gets an illustrated page with a paragraph-length description focused on key aspects of its history, economy, or cultural traditions. There are also two to three bite-size, bullet-point facts about topics ranging from wildlife to geography, mythology, or national pastimes. Information is too broad for research assignments but will delight curious browsers with its joyful, energetic illustrations and appealing assortment of trivia—for example, that there are more pyramids in Sudan than Egypt, the beaches of Namibia are home to more than a thousand shipwrecks, and Lake Tele in the Republic of the Congo is the rumored home of a mythical monster called the Mokele-Mbembe. Contrasts are a cross-cutting theme, from the intersection of traditional lifestyles with contemporary ones (e.g., Eritrean nomad communities using GPS and cellular apps to track rainfall patterns) to the wide class differences within many countries. The facts are complemented by vibrant, wonder-filled renderings. Back matter includes an index and recommended websites for further reading.
VERDICT Atinuke’s first foray into nonfiction admirably presents an accessible and engaging narrative with its nuanced treatment of a continent too often depicted in relation to its extremes.

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