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Handa’s Surprise


Handas-SurpriseEileen Browne 
Walker Books                             
Age 3-7

This clever, simple story, set in Kenya, tells of Handa’s journey from her home to her friend’s village with a present of fruit that she has picked specially. On her way, and without her knowing, different animals each take a fruit until there is nothing left in her basket and no surprise for her friend. All is solved when a goat charges at a nearby tree, and provides a big surprise for Handa!


Share the story

Read aloud Before reading the book, encourage children to look at the cover and to talk about the characters and what they think is happening. Have they seen food being carried like this? Then read through the story, pausing to talk about the pictures and what will happen next. What would they like to happen in the end?

Join in As you read and reread the book, encourage children to join in where they can. Their confidence and enjoyment will build as you revisit the book together and children become more familiar with the story and story language.

Talk about the story Talk together about which part of the story children like best and why. What do they know that Handa doesn’t? How would they feel if they discovered all their fruit had gone? Why do they think the book is called ‘Handa’s Surprise’? Is there more than one reason?

Tell the story Using the pictures, children can turn the pages and retell the story in their own words.

Watch the story

From Ceip La Maquina 

Things to make and do

Act it out Children can use animal toys and real or pretend fruit to act out the story. They can also make up their own using different fruits and animals.

Make a zigzag book Using card or paper, children can make a zigzag book and draw the story with each scene of the story on a different page. Then they can add their own writing to tell the story, using the repeated phrases, or in their own words.

Draw a fruit Children can choose one of the fruits Handa carries to her friend and draw it in as much detail as possible, choosing colours carefully and noticing  patterns and textures. Children can peel or cut into the fruit to see the shapes and seeds. Afterwards they can eat it!

Balance a basket How easy is it to walk carrying something on your head? Using a small basket with a few soft items, or a cushion, children can practice walking without holding their load on their heads. This can become a game, with someone trying to take an item without being noticed.

Find out more

Read more books by Eileen Browne, titles include:

Handa’s Hen

Wait and See

No Problem

Tick Tock

Handa’s Surprising Day

Wait for Me!

Up the Tree

Other related books you and your child might enjoy:

We’re Going on a Lion Hunt by David Axtell

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema

For an A-Z of Fruit see Eating the Alphabet By Lois Ehlert (see Our Top Ten Alphabet Books)

Find out more about Kenyan animals here.