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Handa's Surprise: Big Book    by Eileen Browne order for
Handa's Surprise
by Eileen Browne
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2011 (2011)
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Now available in this whopping Big Book format (approximately 18x15), this wonderful story tells of a young girl from the Luo tribe who sets out to visit her friend with seven delicious fruits.

Handa places a banana, guava, orange, mango, pineapple, avocado and passion fruit in a basket that she will carry on her head as she makes the short journey to visit Akeyo in the next village. While she wonders which fruit her friend will like best, Handa is unaware of the fact that along the way her basket is being emptied by animals.

One by one, a monkey, ostrich, zebra, elephant, giraffe, antelope and parrot stealthily snitch a piece of delicious fruit without the little girl realizing what is happening.

Fortunately, Handa is in for a big surprise. When she arrives at her friend's house the basket that she has balanced atop her head is not empty. In fact, is it filled with fruit, but not the fruit she left home with. You'll have to read this cute story to see what that fruit is and how it magically appeared in what should have been a very empty basket.

Given the size of this book it is ideal for use with a group of children in a school setting. That is not to suggest that Handa's Surprise is not appropriate for home use because any child would love to read this book in any environment. But, at home you'll probably want to sit on the floor or at a large table to make turning the pages easier.

What makes this volume really special is not just the clever story but the bright, very, very big illustrations that virtually jump right off the page and seem to shout, 'LOOK AT ME!'

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