Shortlist year: 2018

Shortlist category: Children's literature

Published by: Scholastic Australia

This is the third and final story in the award-winning Figgy series. Both Nana and Figgy, receive scholarships to attend the Hope College in Ghana's big city, Accra. Figgy and Nana will have to leave behind the village and family they love, meet lots of new people and learn new things. Figgy does not want to go, but Grandma Ama says she must. But Nana begins acting strange and he will not tell Figgy what he is doing when he disappears from school on the weekends.

About the author


Tamsin Janu

Tamsin Janu was born and raised in Sydney. When she is not writing, Tamsin is studying Law. Her first novel, Figgy in the World, was written after a three-month stay in Ghana in 2009. Many of the places and the children she met there inspired her novels. She has won or been shortlisted for several literature awards.

Judges’ comments

Fans will be aware that this is the third tale about the ebullient Figgy and her exuberant family, and their experiences in their home country of Ghana. Like its predecessors, it can be read independently, with great satisfaction. In this episode, Figgy and Nana earn scholarships, which take them to Hope College in the big city, Accra. On one of his 'thinking walks', Nana befriends a family group living in the great city slum. Figgy soon discovers this and much to her astonishment finds he has been helping them harvest the rubble tip to find saleable items that might provide them with income. It isn't long before Figgy finds herself fighting for their right to survive as well.

This story is remarkable for its sparkling characterisation, authentic voices and evocation of setting. These elements leap from the very first pages and readers quickly become comfortable with the people and places that will carry the story forward. Figgy's family is surrounded by love, nurtured by their wonderful matriarch, Grandma Ama. Love, not obligation, is the ultimate determinant by which decisions are made by her devoted family. Despite their impoverishment, Grandma Ama has imbued a social conscience in her charges, which is the springboard for their adventures.

One of the promises of fiction is to take readers to places they may never see for themselves. This book certainly delivers on that. With confidence and authority, the author creates a believable sense of place. Readers will be surprised at the social conditions existing in Accra, where extreme poverty prevails and basic utilities do not exist. Yet at no time does authorial intervention impinge on this revelation. Despite this depressive setting, optimism pervades the telling. Even small opportunities are not taken for granted. There is always hope, and gratitude for opportunities provided, a salutary model for this readership.