Blossom, by Tamsin Janu

The little girl was silent, and just stared.
So Lottie asked questions. ‘What’re you up to? Are you lost?’
Silence. The little girl hadn’t blinked once.
‘Where’re your parents?’
Silence.
‘Don’t worry if you haven’t got any parents. I don’t. I live with my Uncle Bobby, who’s kind enough.’

Lottie lives with just her Uncle Bobby, and has always longed for a sister, so when a lost girl turns up on her doorstep, she’s excited. But the girl – who Lottie names Blossom – isn’t like other children. Not only doesn’t she speak, but she only eats plants, makes funny sounds, and has green liquid instead of blood. Lottie navigates the difficulties of having such an odd sister presents, until Blossom gets sick, and suddenly becomes the center of scientific interest. Only Lottie and her friends can rescue her.

Blossom is a beautiful tale of an unexpected friendship, with an equally unexpected outcome. It soon becomes apparent that Blossom may be from another world, but just how different this place is is only slowly revealed. In the meantime, Lottie draws on her own strengths as well as the help of those around her.

A beautiful, whimsy-filled story.

Blossom, by Tamsin Janu
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781742991641

Figgy in The World, Tamsin Janu

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. Maybe there are millions of Figgys out there. Figgys who whine every day, ‘Everyone is called Figgy where I live! Figgy, Figgy, Figgy! Why can’t I have a non-Figgyish name?’

I don’t even know why my name is Figgy. My mama named me, but I cannot remember her. She left me on Grandma Ama’s doorstep eight years ago when I was a baby. Then she ran away, never to be seen again. There was a note wedged in the blanket I was wrapped in, with four words on it.

Her name is Figgy.

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. Maybe there are millions of Figgys out there. Figgys who whine every day, ‘Everyone is called Figgy where I live! Figgy, Figgy, Figgy! Why can’t I have a non-Figgyish name?’

I don’t even know why my name is Figgy. My mama named me, but I cannot remember her. She left me on Grandma Ama’s doorstep eight years ago when I was a baby. Then she ran away, never to be seen again. There was a note wedged in the blanket I was wrapped in, with four words on it.

Her name is Figgy.

Figgy is an eight-year old girl, living in a village in Ghana. Her Grandma Ama is sick, and the local doctor is not very useful. Figgy decides that she must travel to America to get the medicine that will make Grandma Ama better. So she sets off to America with her special goat Kwame. Along the way she wonders whether she will discover other Figgys, or whether she is the only Figgy in the world. But America is further than she could possibly have imagined and travelling there is frought with challenge. She meets good people and not-so-good people on her journey. Despite the challenges, she and Kwame travel on. She will help her Grandma Ama.

Figgy in the World is simply delightful. From the design of the front cover to the final page, the reader is introduced to an entrancing girl wrapped in both innocence and knowledge, determined to achieve her goal. She is on a quest. Figgy tells her story in first person and the reader can gauge where her knowledge and her innocence overlap and hold their breath as she gets herself into and out of trouble. She is assisted, and hindered, by Kwame and her new friend Nana. Figgy’s search for America and medicine is full of twists and turns, humour and friendship. Set in Ghana, this is a universal story about love and friendship, adventure and belonging. Highly recommended for mid-primary and beyond.

Figgy in the World, Tamsin Janu Omnibus Books 2014 ISBN: 9781742990453

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com