Figgy in the World by Tamsin Janu

Figgy has the most fantastic outlook on life. She really only has one complaint, and that’s her unusual name. The rest of her considerable energy is spent pondering the big wide world, until one day her thoughts are taken over by a conversation she overhears in which she learns that her beloved grandmother, who’s raised her, is very sick. So begins Figgy’s quest to travel from Ghana to America, where she’s heard she can get the best medicine. Her only companions are her pet goat and a boy her age who becomes like a brother.

Written by a young Australian who has worked with children in Ghana, this really is an impressive debut. Figgy’s rationalisations about the world are a hundred times nicer than the truth – she’s a charming Pollyanna-type who will melt hearts. Her world is harsh but she puts a positive spin on everything. Figgy in the World is uplifting and funny, and highly recommended as a family read or independently for ages 8 and up.

Emily Gale is a Children’s & YA Specialist at Readings Carlton, and a Children’s & YA writer the rest of the time.