Too Small Tola and the Three Fine Girls


We return to the megacity of Lagos and the crowded flat shared by Too Small Tola and her older sister, brother and grand mummy. While grand mummy sells groundnuts on the roadside, the children are expected to go to school and try their hardest. Yet there is not money for new shoes or hot running water. At times, Tola is aware of the differences between her and the three fine girls she sees on Masquerade Day. It seems they have new jeans with sparkles and pink, shiny trainers.

Yet how do Too Small Tola and Three Fine Girls really compare? It seems that although Grandmummy doesn’t have enough money for rice without stones, the three children are dedicated to fulfilling her wishes and rules. Even Dapo, who does not help Tola when she must miss school when Grandmummy falls sick. Thereafter Grandmummy surprises us, and Tola, on Masquerade Day….

From the setting, which feels as though we can experience it, to the fully realised characters, Too Small Tola and the Three Fine Girls makes for wonderful reading. The three stories included in this early chapter book are written with such authority and awareness. Bookwagon loves this book, recommends it to Nigeria and back and thereafter, hopes there will be more!

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Too  Small Tola and the Three Fine Girls

Atinuke, illustrated by Onyinye Iwu


Tola’s grandmother sells groundnuts by the city roadside. It does not bring in enough money for the family to have rice without stones. In the first of three stories within Too Small Tola and the Three Fine Girls, we join Tola and her siblings on a rainy day. It seems that Grandmummy is at work, while the children are charged with ‘squatting on the floor, picking stones out of rice’. However, it is only Tola at work. It seems that Moji is studying at the old computer, while Dapo is kicking ‘the ball on his knees’ and ‘making little grunts’. Yet what happens if the ball ignites an angry argument between Tola’s older brother and sister? Thereafter, what if it leads to a dramatic incident such as the three children might never be forgiven?
We return to the megacity of Lagos and the life of Too Small Tola. Once again our little heroine’s  observation skills and keen loyalty to her Grandmummy impress us. Yet we also realise the hardship of Tola’s life, from the hot and cold taps that only run cold, to the horror of Grandmummy falling seriously ill. It seems that the medicine that might cure her illness costs well beyond anything that Grandmummy might have saved. Is there a chance that the children can make a difference?

Bookwagon adores Too Small Tola and the Three Fine Girls. Atinuke’s storytelling is engrossing, engaging and illustrative. It feels as though we can feel the city and smell the groundnuts. Thereafter, we can see the sparkle of the braids worn by ‘the finest girl in the masquerade.’ 


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