Too Small Tola is an early chapter book with a selection of short stories about Tola, a young girl living in Lagos, her family, and her community. This is a solid book for young readers with a rich description of setting and cute illustrations by Onyinye Iwu that really add to the story.

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The summary, from Amazon:

Three delightful tales from a renowned Nigerian storyteller introduce a chapter-book heroine who is every bit as mighty as she is small.

In a trio of droll stories, award-winning author and storyteller Atinuke debuts an endearing and enduring character with plenty to prove. Tola lives in an apartment in the busy city of Lagos, Nigeria, with her sister, Moji, who is very clever; her brother, Dapo, who is very fast; and Grandmommy, who is very bossy. Tola may be small, but she’s strong enough to carry a basket brimming with groceries home from the market, and she’s clever enough to count out Grandmommy’s change. When the faucets in the apartment break, it’s Tola who brings water from the well. And when Mr. Abdul, the tailor, has an accident and needs help taking his customers’ measurements, only Tola can save the day. Atinuke’s trademark wit and charm are on full display, accompanied by delightful illustrations by Onyinye Iwu. Too Small Tola evokes the urban bustle and rich blending of cultures in Lagos through the eyes of a little girl with an outsize will—and an even bigger heart.

Buy Too Small Tola.

Too Small Tola is a collection of short stories about Tola, her family, and her community. Personally, I would have loved for this to be a linear tale so we could see more character development, though we do see some for Dapo in the last story. All three of the stories are heartwarming and fun, and we see that Tola might be small, but she is mighty – as are the other woman in her community!

The description of Lagos is very rich for a young reader chapter book. I also loved the illustrations. They added to the story and are super cute. At first I wasn’t super thrilled that each story starts off telling us how run-down Tola’s family’s apartment is. I think sometimes for American children unfamiliar with Lagos who may be reading this, it might give them the idea that this is the case for everyone in Nigeria. I know certain stereotypes already sit in some kids’ heads that have been passed down to them from family and the media. But then the final chapter shows us Tola and Dapo exploring Lagos and meeting all sorts of people, from rich celebrities to their neighbors. I thought this was a great addition to the story.

Overall this was a cute read, but I just found myself wanting more from it. I wonder if we will see more about Tola and her family in future installments…

Find out more about how I rate books here.

Too Small TolaToo Small Tola by Atinuke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A small selection of stories about Tola, her family, and her community. Tola is a little girl growing up in Lagos. A solid young reader, cute illustrations.

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Book Club Questions

  1. What makes Tola special? What about her siblings?
  2. Tola is small but mighty. How did she show her strength in these stories?
  3. How does Tola’s brother Dapo change while helping Mr. Abdul?
  4. What did Tola and her grandmother buy to help Moji in the first story?


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peacefully reading