When I recently got the chance to interview Atinuke, author of the Anna Hibiscus and the No. 1 Car Spotter books we’ve fallen in love with, I also asked her if she would share with us 8 books that reflect pivotal moments in her life so far, with particular reference to her journey towards becoming a published author. Here’s what Atinuke had to say…
Thank you, Zoe, for a very special question. I have spent a gorgeous morning delving in my memory and bookshelves and revisiting these dear old friends.
Milly Molly Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley
I had four Milly, Molly, Mandy books in a box set that I loved. (The printed price on them is £1.45!!!) Anyone who has read both Anna Hibiscus and Milly Molly Mandy will know what a huge influence those books had on my writing. J.L.B showed me that wonderful stories could be written about the ordinary doings of an ordinary family. Especially as they might not be so ordinary to someone else!
Katie Morag by Mairi Hedderwick
I had very few books as a child – there were very few available in Nigeria in the early 70s – and I often felt starved for them. Then when I was at University in the UK I had neighbours with an enormous collection of children’s picture books. I gobbled up those wonderful books – as delighted to discover them at 19 as I would have been at 5! Katie Morag was my favourite. More stories about an ordinary-extraordinary family.
Buffalo Woman by Paul Goble
Again I only discovered Paul Goble’s picture books as an adult. I love them, I could practically eat them, every single detail of the illustrations and every single careful word. I remember the first time I had one in my hands – giving it back to its owner was so hard! Those books showed me how important children’s books can be, as an expression of love, and as a record of cultures that are
practically gone transformed, and transforming fast [Correction 12 Feb 2012 at Atinuke’s request – see comments below].
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Reading this book was very important for me, as a young African teenager recently moved to live in white, western culture. And as important was how popular this book was at the time. I remember thinking, “Oh, so one is allowed to write black stories. That counts as important too!”
Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe
I laughed and cried when I read this book. It is impossible to describe the feeling, after years of reading and loving books with a passion, to one day open a book, a great book, and find that it is written about the world that one comes from one’s self. Thank you, Achebe. I am forever grateful.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This book, along with Love in the Time of Cholera, opened my mind to a whole new approach to writing and what can be expressed through words when one lets go of the “real” world. I remember reading them as a teenager and feeling terribly excited. An excitement which I still feel.
Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
This book inspired me to follow my intuition. I might never have started telling stories, or writing them, or sending them off unseen to Walker books, otherwise!
Loving What Is by Byron Katie and Stephen Mitchell
This book helped me to unlearn the things I needed to before being able to write Anna Hibiscus.
I can only thank Atinuke for sharing her selection of books with us today. What a wonderful, interesting collection – and for me a personal delight that she included the Katie Morag books, which are some of our very favourite picture books. I’m off now to reserve Buffalo Woman, but what’s the first book from this list you’d pick up?
This week is turning out to be a little festival celebrating Atinuke! Tomorrow I have a review of her newest book, The No. 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird, so I hope to see you back here then 🙂