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Children's Fiction Emigration & Immigration

Dear Baobab

by (author) Cheryl Foggo

illustrated by Qin Leng

Second Story Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2011
Emigration & Immigration, Africa, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2011
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2011
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 5 to 8
  • Grade: 1 to 3
  • Reading age: 3 to 5


Maiko has left his village in Africa far behind, moving to live with his aunt and uncle in North America. When he thinks of home he thinks of the large Baobab at the center of his old village. To ease his loneliness, Maiko adopts the little spruce tree in the front yard of his new home. When he learns that the spruce is in danger of being cut down, Maiko knows he can’t let that happen. He knows all too well what it’s like to be small, and feel planted in the wrong place.

About the authors

Cheryl Foggo is a multiple award-winning playwright, author and filmmaker, whose work over the last thirty years has focused on the lives of Western Canadians of African descent. Recent works include the release of her NFB feature documentary John Ware Reclaimed, available on, as well as the thirtieth anniversary edition of her book Pourin' Down Rain: A Black Woman Claims Her Place in the Canadian West. Her plays Heaven and John Ware Reclaimed have received multiple productions, including at The Citadel in Edmonton, Lunchbox Theatre in Calgary, at the Blyth Theatre Festival and in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre. Cheryl is the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Outstanding Artist Award, the Doug and Lois Mitchell Outstanding Calgary Artist Award and the Arts, Media and Entertainment Award from the Calgary Black Chambers, all in 2021. She is a 2022 inductee into the Alberta Order of Excellence.

Cheryl Foggo's profile page

Qin Leng was born in Shanghai, China. At the age of five, she moved with her family to Bordeaux, France, where she spent the next four years. Soon after, she moved to Montreal, where she spent the rest of her childhood. Having been born in Asia but raised in the West, she uses both cultures as her source of inspiration. Looking at her illustrations, one can see the presence of both East and West.Qin Leng comes from a family of artists, where the visual senses have always been of the utmost importance. She grew up watching her father work with acrylics, pastel, and ink. Father and daughter often spent their days drawing side by side. Drawing first started as a hobby, but soon became a way of expression.Despite her many years of study to become a biologist, Qin decided at the age of 20 to follow the same path as her father and enrolled in the School of Cinema to study Film Animation at Concordia University. She has produced animated shorts, which were nominated in various nationa

Qin Leng's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Foggo's lyrical text is perfect for reading aloud, and certain expressions nearly turn the story into poetry...Maiko's story is simple and buoyant and will appeal to a wide range of children."

CM Magazine

This is a moving and delightful story of a child who has had to make enormous changes in his life. Beautifully - even lyrically - written, it also has evocative and warmly human illustrations. A lovely book.

Healthy Books Blog

Dear Baobab is a charming read that, without being too syrupy-sweet, offers encouragement to anyone who has ever felt they are in the wrong place. ... The conversations between Maiko and the tree are particularly superb, capturing the charm and innocence expected of any seven-year-old, but containing the ache of someone who longs for the past.

Quill & Quire

This book is highly recommended for both school and public libraries. It is suitable for both individual readers and for story time.

Resource Links

Maiko experiences an orphan’s loneliness and an immigrant’s unease but eventually finds comfort in his new home.

Kirkus Reviews


Sal's Fiction Addiction Blog

Calgarian Cheryl Foggo's impressive writing credentials foretold the jewel of Dear Baobab, her first children's picture book, a sympathetic but hopeful portrayal of finding a way to fit it.

CanLit for Little Canadians

Leng's illustrations are a very good match for the story. Perfect for young listeners or readers ages 5 up.

The Happy Nappy Bookseller

Dear Baobab is a gentle story about settling into a new home and a new culture. It opens up many questions for young readers, who will be touched by its universally relevant themes of bullying and belonging.

Papertigers Blog

Loved the original concept with the Baobab tree, and the universal concept of children having to move and try to fit in.

So Many Books... So Little Time

This sweetly illustrated picture book is the story of a small boy’s struggle to develop a sense of belonging in a new country. All primary aged children can relate to his vulnerability and to the many emotions expressed in Maiko’s story, making it an ideal venue for teaching the concept of making connections.

Canadian Teacher Magazine

Librarian Reviews

Dear Baobab

After moving from Africa to North America, Maiko knows what it is to feel planted in the wrong place.

This is a story to share to help young readers understand the feelings and challenges that many young immigrant children face when moving to a new country. The special relationship that Maiko has with a giant baobab tree in his village in Africa as well as the spruce tree that sits in the yard of his new home, shows the comfort – and friendship — we can find within our natural environment.

Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Top Grade Selection 2016.

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