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Description

Handa is a young girl who lives in a village in Kenya. She decides to take seven different fruits in a basket to her friend Akeyo who lives in a nearby village. Handa walks to Akeyo's village with the basket of fruit balanced on her head. On her journey, each fruit is taken by a different animal until no fruit is left. As she is nearing Akeyo's village, a goat breaks free from the post it is tied to and heads staight towards a tangerine tree which Handa is walking under. The goat headbutts the tree causing tangerines to fall into Handa's basket. When Handa reaches Akeyo's village, she has a shock to see tangerines in her basket. Akeyo is very happy as tangerines are her favourite fruit.

Reader's Reviews

This is a fantastic book for EYFS or KS1 children that could be read aloud to the class or read to children by parents/carers. The illustrations in the book are absolutely fantastic and almost tell the story without the words being there.


Handa’s Surprise, by Eileen Browne, is a beautiful colourful picture book. In the story Handa is taking a surprise bowl of fruit on a journey to her friend Akeyo. Different animals pinch the fruit without Handa realising it. There are lots of very interesting animals and fruit to find out about, making the journey really fun, As Handa’s journey comes to a close, a goat bumps into a tangerine tree, and fills up her empty bowl with tangerines. When she arrives at Akeyo’s village this leads to a happy surprise for Handa and Akeyo. Handa is surprised by the loss of the other fruit, and the replacement tangerines. Still there is a happy ending, because the other surprise is for Akeyo; who is so pleased that Handa has brought his favourite fruit. This is a really engaging and entertaining picture book. What makes this story so wonderful is the beautiful describing words.. It also introduces the theme of friendship and its importance, which is another positive to this story. The surprise at the end of the story adds a comical twist that brings the story to life. Altogether, this is a wonderful read and will make you smile. The simple story line and repetitive rhythm of the story, coupled with those colourful pictures, makes it ideal for story-time.


This is a beautiful vibrantly illustrated book. It introduces the young reader to new vocabulary and an often unexplored setting and culture. Set in an African village, we follow a tribal girl, Handa, on a journey to her friend. Handa puts a selection of local fruits into a basket to surprise her friend Akeyo. As she travels through the countryside Handa wonders what fruit her friend will like most. Due to this preoccupation Handa fails to notice the local wildlife pilfering her fruits. On arrival in Akeyo’s village both girls get a surprise. Eileen Browne’s illustrations wonderfully complement her story, they are energetic, multi-coloured and beautifully detailed. The artwork is so well presented that the tale could be told without the text. K. Walsh.



Handa’s Surprise is a vibrant and entertaining publication that offers itself as the perfect classroom resource by introducing young children to the world of culture, animals, friendship and much more. Feeling that certain groups of people are under-valued in much children’s literature, Browne has aspired to enrich her work with female characters from a wide variety of backgrounds. The book is designed to be read aloud, demonstrating the illustrations as it is done so. Browne has cleverly interwoven two levels to this story; the literature itself plays out the thought patterns of Handa as she heads off with a special basket of fruit to see her friend in the next village; whilst the illustrations portray a total different scenario, leaving both her and her friend totally surprised. Overall is this an invaluable addition to any teaching environment as it can form the basis to many class activities such as posters, role play and discussions, spurring much conversation and questioning from the children about the world around them.  Rachel Avison




Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Browne tells the story of Handa who wants to take a present of fruit to her friend Akeyo to surprise her. On the way different animals can’t resist helping themselves to the fruit in Handa’s basket until eventually there is no fruit left! When Handa reaches her friend she gets a surprise of her own: a basket of tangerines. This book is ideal for young children, it provides an excellent resource for practicing counting and subtracting. It can also be used to help teach young children about different cultures as the story is set in Africa and about a variety of animals and fruit. The illustrations are bright and fascinating and could be used as a starter to ask children questions about the story, they could be used as inspiration for art activities.
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Parental Guidance /Reading with your child==

Reading Age: Early years/KS1

Reading Aloud Age: Any age

Suitable for children between the ages of three and seven years old.

Anyone who is familiar with Handa’s Surprise, will agree that the vibrant and colourful illustrations on the front cover immediately grab your attention and make you pick it up to explore inside. These wonderful illustrations continue throughout the book, bringing it to life and pulling you into an exciting world of an African village. The story introduces children to other cultures, and in particular talks about African fruits. This is a great tool for encouraging children to try new fruits. They could even have a go at describing what each fruit looks and tastes like. You could also have a bit of fun with your child by getting creative, making masks and/or costumes for each animal and then acting out the story. We all know children jump at the chance to dress up! I can guarantee your child will love the cheekiness and the guessing game that is included in this story, as well as the element of surprise at the end, so be prepared to read it time and time again! 

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Nuvola apps bookcase This article is a stub. You can help Children's Books Wiki by expanding it. Book Review: Handa’s Surprise. “Handa’s Surprise”, a brilliantly illustrated picture book, tells the story of Handa’s long walk to see her friend, Akeyo. Each page details Handa’s journey and portrays a glimpse of South West Kenya. It ends with an unexpected surprise that children will love!






This book could be used to create lots of fun and interesting activities to do at home. 



I would recommend using this book with children aged 2-7 years.*




Predict the surprise: You could ask your child to look at the front cover or read the blurb and predict the surprise at the end. Story Board: Retell the story getting your child to draw pictures of the main events. Adjectives: Introduce your child to any unfamiliar adjectives; together think of your own adjectives to describe the fruit and perhaps also the animals. Maths Weight: Gather a selection of fruit and vegetables, ask your children to weigh them and discuss which ones are the heaviest and lightest? Estimates: Predict how many grapes/bananas are in a bunch. Cooking Make a fruit salad using the fruits from the book then taste the fruit and discuss. Computing Act out the story and take digital photographs, show the family on a computer or television. Geography Map work: 1) Find Kenya on a map/globe. 2) Draw a map showing the route of Handa’s journey. PSHE Family: Could you think of a nice surprise for a family member? The list is endless….




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