Picture Book Review: The Royal Adventures of Princess Halima by Jainaba Fye, YaAdam Fye, and Anna Fye

Princess HalimaThe Royal Adventures of Princess Halima: Exploring the Wilderness of Tanzania written by Jainaba Fye, YaAdam Fye, Anna Fye, illustrated by Dolph Banza

From Goodreads: Introducing Princess Halima, the African Princess! Follow Princess Halima of the Kingdom of Affia as she explores the beautiful country of Tanzania while visiting her cousin Dalilah. Her adventure includes hiking Mount Kilimanjaro and a trip to Serengeti National Park! Learn all about Tanzania and its historic landmarks! The Royal Adventures of Princess Halima is a series of tales that will excite, amaze and educate the reader about the different countries in Africa while unlocking the wonders, mysteries of each nation through Princess Halima’s adventures. 

I tested out this book as our nightly chapter book and it was hit. As a parent I appreciate that the book series sets out to demonstrate that Africa is not a country. Not only is it an enormous continent, but it peopled by a huge variety of cultures and histories. Strangely this comes as a surprise to a lot of (usually white) parents, students, and people. Princess Halima introduces readers to the places she is visiting and to her cousins and friends she makes along the way. This was a great opportunity for us to talk about Africa, it’s history of amazing cultures, and its diversity.

The fact that the main character is a princess will appeal to kids in the princess phase. Plus it gives their teachers and parents an opportunity to expand the definition of what a princess looks like and where princesses live. They aren’t just white girls in pink dresses. And they aren’t just interested in clothes and tea parties. Halima is brown-skinned and wearing a more traditional robe and she’s on a trip around the continent of Africa learning about the cultures she encounters as someone who will eventually have a stake in the politics of her own country.

I would absolutely put these books in a transitional chapter book collection. Some of the vocabulary was a little tricky (for an independent reader, certainly not for a child being read aloud to), but the length and relatively simple story line would make it easy for an emerging reader to get through on their own. Many children are also interested in learning about cultures around the world. Giving them these types of books will open up their minds and worlds as well as give them a high interest topic that will motivate them to read the books on their own.

Diversify your chapter books and give kids who are interested in hybrid fiction-nonfiction types of reading material something to get excited about. I also highly recommend these if you have any elementary grade that studies African cultures. And support authors and illustrators of color and the publishers that support them.

Final note: If you do purchase this book, please post a review of it on Amazon. This will help other folks find the book and know that it’s worth purchasing. If you use any other book services like GoodReads or your local library’s online catalog be sure to post a review there too! And if your local library doesn’t have a copy, request that they purchase one.