Handa’s Hen – Eileen Browne

More in the Series – Handa
“More in the Series” scores the other books in a series where one (or more) of the books have made it into the 1001 Books list. Mostly because I’m a bit of a completionist. 

POINTS: 6 out of 10.

Bechdel: 1 point
Variety of characters: 2 points
Good story: 2 points.
Discretionary ideological points: 1 point.

Remember Handa? This is the sequel, and it is just as delightful as the first. Handa is a young girl living in Kenya, and in this book she loses her hen and her friend Akeyo helps her to find it. This is coupled with a counting trope (first they find two fluttery butterflies, then three stripy mice, four little lizards and so forth).

ALL the characters in this book are female! Handa and her friend Akeyo, Handa’s grandmother, hell even the hen! This is really only notable because it pretty much never happens. So, yep, it passes the Bechdel. Not only that, but these two young AFRICAN girls show intelligence and ingenuity! YAY!

(Waits for the MRAs to start in – just don’t, okay? I’m not interested in engaging with you if you can’t see why this is relevant. 😛 )

The illustrations are gorgeous, and there is even a note in the front telling readers what the exact species of each of the animals they find before they find Mondi, the hen, and her ten new little chicks.

This book is great. It normalises Kenyan rural life, a big deal is not made about this or the fact that the characters are girls. The animals are all indigenous to Kenya, so its accurate.

Good stuff. More of this, please.

What do you think? What other books do you know of where all the characters are female and it’s not a big deal?

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