|photo: Paul Musso
Atinuke is the Nigerian-born author of many books for children, including the Anna Hibiscus and No. 1 Car Spotter series. She started her career as an oral storyteller of tales from the African continent. Now she draws on her childhood memories to write about contemporary life in Nigeria. Atinuke is the author of three picture books illustrated by Angela Brooksbank: Baby Goes to Market, B Is for Baby as well as Catch that Chicken! In Too Small Tola (published by Candlewick Press), she introduces a chapter-book heroine who is every bit as mighty as she is small. Atinuke lives in Wales.
On your nightstand now:
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
Coming to England by Floella Benjamin, illustrated by Diane Ewen
100 Great Black Britons by Patrick Vernon and Angelina Osborne
The Oxford Companion to Black British History, edited by David Dabydeen, John Gilmore and Cecily Jones
I gobble up any modern Nigerian fiction that I can get my hands on. Also, I'm writing a children's book on Black British history, so I'm immersed in it right now.
Favorite books when you were a child:
Astrid Lingren's Karlsson on the Roof
Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories by Joyce Lancaster Brisley
The Magic Faraway Tree series as well as anything and everything else by Enid Blyton! That was what my mum could get her hands on for me in Nigeria in the '70s!
I wish I'd had the Katie Morag books by Mairi Hedderwick.
Your top five authors:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie--everything she writes is outstanding.
Sarah J. Maas--when I want to switch off and go to another world, I turn to SJM; like the best fantasy, so many of the lines describe how I feel!
J.R.R. Tolkien--his books have seen me through some of the worst times in my life!
Jon Klassen--I go back to his picture books again and again.
Astrid Lindgren--she's been a favorite for 50 years.
Book you've faked reading:
Not going to admit to that!
Books you're currently an evangelist for:
The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
Books you've bought for the cover:
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen and A Story About Afiya by James Berry.
Books you hid from your parents:
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough and Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews.
Books that changed your life:
The Color Purple by Alice Walker--the first book I read with Black people in it, and it literally changed my life.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez changed how I saw writing.
Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy opened my mind to other possibilities.
Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés changed how I saw stories.
Favorite line from a book:
"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." --Gandalf in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series
I cling to this quote in times of need.
Five books you'll never part with:
The Stone Boy and Other Stories by Thich Nhat Hanh
Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga
The Mountain Is Young by Han Suyin
Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe
Frederick by Leo Lionni
Books to get me through hard times:
(I'm cheating here coz I'll also never part with these!)
The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien
Both the Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas
New and Selected Poems, Volumes One and Two by Mary Oliver
Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
A Course in Miracles by Helen Schucman
Current favorite picture books:
Picture books are my favorite genre!
So Much! by Trish Cooke, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Katie Morag and the Two Grandmothers by Mairi Hedderwick
No Matter What by Debi Gliori
That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell, illustrated by Neal Layton
My current five favorite Nigerian books:
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
Every Good Will Come by Sefi Atta
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta