Saturday, March 3, 2018

Figgy takes the city by Tamsin Janu

Figgy takes the City is the third book in the series that began with Figgy in the world and continued with Figgy for President.  I said the second book didn't disappoint and I will say this again about the third installment and now we have the exciting news that this book and another by Tasmin Janu have been selected for our CBCA Notables list.

Figgy and her friend Nana sit for a scholarship exam and both of them are selected to attend Hope College in the city of Accra. Figgy knows her friend Nana is clever and that he has studied hard to earn this honour but she is not so certain about why she has been selected.

"Principal Alfoso smiled. And he said, 'You deserve it for a number of reasons.' My breath caught in my throat when he tapped my cheek. Just below the spot where my second eye should be. I was not getting a scholarship because I was good at reading, sport or maths. Not even because I was in a movie I was getting a scholarship because I was missing an eye."

When the children finally arrive in the city after an eventful journey and a confusing first week they go to stay with Uncle Philmond.  Figgy is struck by the poverty she sees. "It was the biggest slum I had ever visited. It seemed to go on forever."  We know Figgy feels concern for the slum dwellers but it is Nana who takes practical steps to help them. Nana can see Uncle Philmond is rich and yet he often fails to send much needed money to Grandma Ama. Nana wants to make money to pay Grandma back for his care. He joins the slum kids each weekend scavenging in the dump instead of staying with Uncle Philmond. Figgy is both curious and furious. Nana seems so different and mysterious - is he still her friend? He won't answer her questions so one evening she follows him.

Tamsin really lets her readers inside a scene and this one is especially graphic.  Here Figgy is following Nana :

"The alleyway was not as busy as the street. I had to be careful Nana wouldn't see me ... The ground was muddy, slippery, and littered with bits of glass and plastic. I almost cried out when I tripped over a cow's head, which was surrounded by a cloud of flies. The cow's mouth was wide open, as if it had been yelling as it died. Most of it's skin had peeled away and what remained was being eaten by maggots."

Here is a review in Reading Time.  I especially like the way the three covers all link together and I thank Tasmin Janu for allowing me to spend a little time in Ghana with Figgy - watching her growing up and taking on new challenges.

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