One of the neat things about being an Independent Consultant with Usborne Books & More is coming across titles that I would never normally pick up, but that hold some pretty amazing messages. The newest in that category is Hip and Hop, You Can Do Anything, by Akala.
Akala is an award winning UK Hip-Hop artist who also founded the Hip Hop Shakespeare company. As per their website, The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company is a music theatre production company aimed at exploring the social, cultural and linguistic parallels between the works of William Shakespeare and that of modern day hip-hop artists. How cool is that?
Now I will admit that I’m not one to listen to Hip-Hop, I’m more of a Broadway Baby. But there are a lot of kids out there that get Hip-Hop and love the rhyme sequences. So what better way to get them excited by a book with a powerful message than to illustrate it with a nod to 1980s Hip-Hop styles and pepper it with rhymes?
Akala’s new book recounts the adventures and inspirational messages of a cool hippo named Hip and his friend Hop through rhyme, rhythm and repetition.
The animals of Blueberry Hill are getting ready for a bike race, but young Hop doesn’t know how to ride a bike. Hip tells him “You CAN do it. You have to follow your dreams and practice.” Now that’s a message that kids need to hear over and over again. There are many ways to say it, you just need to find one that resonates with your child.
Hop keeps trying, but it’s like as soon as he learns one aspect, he messes up something else. Nevertheless, his friends keep cheering him on with positive messages of never giving up. When Hop is really ready to throw in the towel, Hip tells him a “story” of a little bird who inspires him because of all of the things he learned to do.
It works and Hop realizes all of the things he never would have done if he just gave up. The book ends with a three stanza Hip-Hop song and the words, “What dreams will you follow?”
You can do anything if you try.
You can do anything, ride or fly!
Don’t let anyone tell you no.
Focus on your dreams and go!
I would love to hear a teacher who gets Hip-Hop read this to their class. I would love to hear a kid who gets Hip-Hop read this out loud. The message in this book is fabulous and opens an important door to a wider audience of readers. There are not a lot of children’s books that speak to the world of Hip-Hop lovers (no seriously, search Amazon) and I think that this is an important addition and would be a great addition to a lot of school classrooms and libraries.