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Figgy and the President by Tamsin Janu (Omnibus Books, Scholastic Australia)
Young Figgy was introduced to Australian children in the multi-award winning novel Figgy in the World. Figgy’s left eye was burned and removed when she was a baby. She lives with her grandmother in a village in Ghana and has an optimistic yet realistic attitude towards life. In this companion novel, Figgy and the President, Figgy’s best friend Nana, a chatty, generous boy who has been beaten by his father, wants to be the President of Ghana. Encouraged to plan her own career, Figgy is chosen to play the role of an orphan in a movie, although the reappearance of her pregnant mother may prove problematic.
Figgy’s voice is one of the highlights of this fine novel, which carefully considers a range of issues including child abuse, slavery and disability. Figgy is empathetic, open-minded and brimming with gratitude while Nana is beguiling and lively. While the children’s lives and culture are specific to Ghana, the portrayal of children’s hopes and dreams is universal. As an Australian author writing about children and life in Ghana with integrity, humour and authority, Tamsin Janu has created an engaging, groundbreaking work.