Children Book Reviews
Reviewer: Benedicta Mawuena Dzandu
Ghana’s creative industry is shattered like glass into a million smithereens. Ghanaians are yearning for more content daily, and the Ghanaian child is not exempted from this. We’ve seen the likes of Ama Atta Aidoo and Efua Sutherland, who cultivated reading literacy in us as a child. They made us see reading as fun and how it ought to be. But have you wondered, in the millennials, we lack new generations to continue the reins of our ancestors?
The Ghanaian child wants to dream of possibilities. They want to escape into fairytales and fantasy out of the “madness” of this world. Exceptional and captivating reading materials that challenge them to aspire and cause a change for their communities.
A young man rising to the occasion is Dennis Mann, a young banker who still finds time out of a tedious banking schedule to write stories for kids.
I was privileged to read his first three books, and oh my goodness, every child needs to read Dennis Mann’s books.
Dennis Mann is a Ghanaian born and resides in Accra with his family. He writes for children and adults. He is the President of Wide Reading Among Kids, a social club that gives free books to underprivileged kids. I share my review for the three books.
BERGANDA: MY FOREST, MY HOME BY DENNIS MANN
In this novel, the author weaves seamlessly together Greek mythology and the Ghanaian history of the Atewa forest. We learn how a clean, cheerful environment fades as foreigners encroach on a forest to fell trees in search of mineral resources.
The story begins with a young girl waking up one morning to find her home destroyed by strangers felling trees; she calls her family. Feeling agitated, Berganda searches for these strangers to seek her revenge. The author takes the reader through Berganda’s journey of self-discovery and ancestry.
“With a forest like Basata, you could feel at home with the trees, the animals were your friends, and you could even communicate with them and play with them, she added. It was a perfect place for her child to grow without her.”
As Berganda discovers her past and ancestry, she becomes a beacon of strength, defining who she could become. This novel carries a timeless message of bravery, acceptance, and the need for community.
I particularly loved the illustrations and how they gracefully grabbed the eye and complimented the text. I also appreciated how the author uses descriptive and expressive language to write a YA novel with “clean” language and scenes. I recommend this novel to my YA and middle-grade lovers who would love to read a reimagining of “jungle boy.”
MR. PEE PEE: KOJO BROWN VISITS THE LAND OF PIE BY DENNIS MANN
As a reader of middle-grade fiction, I think it’s a good attempt at writing a children’s fantasy infused with magical realism, with very plain, straightforward narration and solid and likeable characters.
Kojo Brown Visits the Land of Pie is a bedwetting-themed tale. We’ve all had the experience of waking up with our pyjamas/nighties and bedsheets wet with pee, feeling ashamed and attempting to cover it before anybody sees it, but failing miserably. Yes! This narrative aims to teach children about bedwetting and how to address it with tolerance and understanding. Sometimes, little lifestyle adjustments, bladder training, moisture training, and medication might help minimize bedwetting.
The novel begins with a weird dream sequence of Kojo Brown playing football with his friends and ending up at Mr Pee Pee’s castle, where he is questioned about why he no longer wets his bed. The plot then shifts to Kojo and his friends fighting as Mr Pee Pee seeks to capture the individuals they care about.
It’s a strange fantasy children’s novel about a child’s dream world. The book contains illustrations that make it enjoyable to read. The reader sees things through Kojo Brown’s point of view and hears his inner monologues.
However, I found the characters’ language and actions a little above middle grade, albeit I liked how this book describes the growth of Kojo Brown from a carefree little boy to a young teen leader.
REVIEW FOR BULLETS & BIROS by DENNIS MANN
This world is indeed cruel. Sometimes, we sit and wonder why certain things happen; the earthquake that claims lives in certain countries, the hurricane and heat waves, the wildfires that the mind can’t comprehend. In this book, we see a child born as an intersex child in the heart of Northern Nigeria.
The first chapter opens a world for the reader to understand the environment where the protagonist, Hawa, lives.
“We sit under the sun; there is no shelter for us. When it rains, there’s no school. If I could sell sand for money, I would be the richest young girl in Damaturu.”
The lead character takes us on a journey as she runs away from home for fear of being married to someone older to be her father’s father and the short justification that she was eleven years old.
This story is heavy. Your heart feels troubled reading every line and line of a story inspired by an incident in Nigeria where Boko Haram kidnapped over 200 young girls.
Dennis Mann gives his reader a view of the camp of Boko Haram and his dealings.
Hawa is part of the young girls captured by Boko Haram and shares her POV from the writer’s pen. She must do everything to survive and flee away from the harm of the bullets to what she had always wanted to become in the future.
This book is worth reading for teens aged 12-18.
If you need to contact the author you can do so by reaching out to him with the channels below: