Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Handa's Surprise 25th Anniversary

In pantomime spirit, children will long to tell Handa what's happening right behind her in this beautiful 25th anniversary edition of a modern classic.

“So luscious it seems almost edible” Observer 

A 25th anniversary edition of a modern classic, this is the story of Handa who decides to take seven pieces of delicious fruit to her friend, Akeyo, who lives in the neighbouring village. But as Handa wonders, I wonder what fruit Akeyo will like best?, a series of sneaky animals steal something from Handa's basket, which she's carrying on her head... When Handa reaches Akeyo, will she have anything left to offer her friend? Brimming with mouth-watering fruit and wild animals, this richly-illustrated story is for the youngest of readers. Named one of the best culturally diverse picture books in the UK, this is a beautiful edition to share and treasure with a foreword and gorgeous gold foil on the cover and spine.

We're delighted to welcome Eileen Browne to the Picture Book Party blog to talk about Handa's Surprise

It's funny how an idea for a picture-book story can take you to new places. The idea for Handa's Surprise was that if someone carried something on top of their head, they wouldn't be able to see what was happening above them... but the reader of the story could.

We rarely carry things on our heads in the UK, so this story had to be set somewhere else. Once I'd decided that a girl would carry fruit to her friend and tall animals would reach down to take it, the story 'travelled' to Africa where the tallest animal in the world - a giraffe - lived. I had to find a country in Africa where giraffes and people might live in the same area. Kenya seemed possible and two wonderful Kenyan women from London's Kenya Tourist Office assured me it could be set in rural SW Kenya. They told me about tribes, hairstyles, clothes and names and so the first "Handa" story began.

Handa's Hen followed and 25 years after Handa's Surprise. A third story, Handa's Noisy Night is to be published this September!

Eileen Browne is a bestselling author and illustrator, well known for her picture book classic, Handa’s Surprise, and its sequel, Handa’s Hen, both of which have been adapted into national puppet theatre productions and which have, together, sold over one million copies in more than twenty countries worldwide. In 2014, Handa’s Surprise was named one of the "50 best culturally diverse children’s books" of all time, in a list compiled by a distinguished independent panel of children’s book experts.


  1. Nice article.
    Here is a book for children between 3 to 8 years of age

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