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Groundwood Books

Malaika’s Surprise

Written by Nadia L. Hohn • Illustrated by Irene Luxbacher

For kids 3 - 7 years old | Published March 01, 2021 | ISBN 9781773062648
JUVENILE FICTION / Family / New Baby

Cover of Malaika’s Surprise

Regular price $18.95 CAD

32 pages | 9 in × 10 in
Print Format

About this book

Malaika’s Surprise

Nadia L. Hohn • Irene Luxbacher

When Malaika finds out she is going to have a new baby brother or sister, she worries that her mother will forget about her. But a surprise arrives on Malaika’s birthday that gives her more reason to celebrate her family’s love.

It’s summertime, and Malaika and Adèle are enjoying playing carnival in their bright costumes, dancing and laughing in the sunshine. But when Mummy announces that they will soon have a new baby brother or sister, Malaika is unsure how to feel about another change in her family. Will Mummy forget about me?

Back at school, Malaika is excited to see her teacher and classmates, and makes friends with a new girl who has recently arrived from a faraway country, just like Malaika. Then on her birthday, a surprise arrives to remind Malaika of the importance of family, and the story ends with a celebration of her family’s love.

Malaika’s Surprise is filled with the same warmth and charm as the first two books in the series, with Nadia L. Hohn’s enchanting prose, written in a blend of standard English and Caribbean patois, and Irene Luxbacher’s colorful collage illustrations.

Key Text Features
key text features

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.

Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.

Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.

Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.

Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.

About the Creators

Nadia L. Hohn

Nadia L. Hohn is a writer and educator. Her first picture book, Malaika’s Costume, won the Helen Isobel Sissons Canadian Children’s Story Award and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) Children’s Literature Award. She is also the author of Malaika’s Winter Carnival; A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes; Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter, illustrated by Gustavo Mazali; and two titles in the Sankofa series — Music and Media. Nadia’s writing is inspired by her childhood memories, Jamaican heritage, Black culture, world travels, and social issues. She lives in Toronto.

Irene Luxbacher

Irene Luxbacher is an artist and author living in Toronto. With more than fifteen years’ experience as an illustrator, Irene has received many awards for her children’s books. She has written and illustrated Deep Underwater (“Masterful artwork and nuanced verse” —Kirkus, starred review) and Mr. Frank, which was selected for the USBBY Outstanding International Books Honor List. Her illustrations for Malaika’s Costume and Malaika’s Winter Carnival by Nadia L. Hohn have also been highly acclaimed, and her illustrations for The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen were shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award.

Awards and Praise

Praise for author Nadia L. Hohn and illustrator Irene Luxbacher for Malaika’s Surprise:

"[A]n intimate and culturally rich picture book." — Kirkus Reviews

"[A] joyful read." — Huffington Post

"An enjoyable, feel-good read for young children." — School Library Journal

"Hohn’s mastery of the craft command[s] a standing ovation." —Cloud Lake Literary

"Written in a combination of standard English and Caribbean patois, Hohn’s work celebrates family values and acceptance of cultural diversity. Bright and lively illustrations by Irene Luxbacher add to the book’s attraction." — Winnipeg Free Press

"There is kindness and generosity, celebration and family all woven into this wonderful story told in Malaika’s distinct voice, with a rich dialogue strongly rooted in her Caribbean heritage." — Storytime with Stephanie Blog

"The use of English, Patois, Arabic, and French is seamless, woven into the fabric of the story – as colorful and beautiful as the carnival costumes Malaika and her sister wear. It’s a song that any immigrant kid will instantly recognize." — Mr. Alex's Bookshelf Blog

Praise for author Nadia L. Hohn and illustrator Irene Luxbacher for Malaika’s Winter Carnival:

“Luxbacher’s stunning mixed-media collage illustrations surround Hohn’s lilting narrative with color, texture, and sensitivity.” — Booklist Online

“Hohn contrasts [Caribbean] and Canadian cultures tenderly, with deep understanding of both, and she and Luxbacher have created a sweet, immersive and loving book that will benefit both young new arrivals to a country and those just meeting them.” — Kirkus Reviews

Praise for author Nadia L. Hohn and illustrator Irene Luxbacher for Malaika’s Costume:

“The text is told in the colloquial voice of the little girl, and readers will quickly and easily feel a part of her circle. Carnival is an important holiday in many cultures, and it’s good to have a picture book to celebrate it.” — Horn Book

“Like a rainbow peacock itself, the illustrations in this book burst with a frenzy of colors and textures.” — Booklist Online

Praise for Irene Luxbacher and Mr. Frank:

Commended USBBY Outstanding International Book, 2015

Commended Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 2015

“Outstanding mixed-media collages and a thoughtful text create a distinctive book that rises far above most tributes to grandparental love … a perfect book.” ­— Kirkus, starred review

Praise for Irene Luxbacher and Deep Underwater:

Finalist Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award, 2018

“Masterful artwork and nuanced verse” — Kirkus, starred review

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