A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

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For Children: The ABCs of Family Love
By Iquo B. Essien

Children's book authoress Uzo Unobagha shares a heartwarming story of familial love in a wonderful new book, "Grandma, How Do You Say I Love You?" illustrated by Victoria Krassa. Drawing on the traditions of her native Igbo land, the award-winning author tells the tale of Noni, who would rather watch television and play than do her chores to prepare for her grandmother's visit.

When she arrives from Nigeria, Grandma Oma teaches Noni that acts of love performed around the house -like cooking, sweeping, and making her bed- are just as important as saying I love you. Grandma shows her how to tie a baby doll to her back with a piece of cloth while she works, how to sing while she makes her bed, dance as she sweeps, and taste jolloff rice cooking on the stove. By the time her love lesson is over, Noni stops worrying about missing her favorite television shows and delights in her chores, finding joy in helping upkeep her hearth and home.

"Grandma," she asks, "How do we say I love you in Igbo?"

"Afulum gi n'anya," her grandmother replies, "But we don't usually say that. We show our love by the help we give to the ones we love."

It is a simple lesson, but not so easy to teach, which is what makes this book a must have for every family facing the challenge of instilling African values in children growing up in America.

"In my culture parents and children are bonded in the knowledge that they cherish each other because we consistently experience what we do for each other -the loving acts, the constant help, the unconditional assistance," Uzobagha writes. "I have therefore written this book to help teach all children the real meaning of love -that it is not only what is said but what is done."

She succeeds at her task, while Krassa's illustrations of Noni's beaded braids, blue caftan --a gift from Grandma Oma -- and invisible spider friend are vibrant and endearing.

April 2nd is International Children's Book Day: to read more books for or about Africa visit the International Board on Books for Young People website. To read more about "Grandma, How Do You Say I Love You?" and other books by Uzo Unobagha, visit: www.adonokebooks.com.

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