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Children's Fiction New Baby

Malaika’s Surprise

by (author) Nadia L. Hohn

illustrated by Irene Luxbacher

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Mar 2021
New Baby, Stepfamilies, Birthdays
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2021
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2021
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 3 to 7
  • Grade: p to 2


When Malaika finds out she is going to have a new baby brother or sister, she worries that her mother will forget about her. But a surprise arrives on Malaika’s birthday that gives her more reason to celebrate her family’s love.

It’s summertime, and Malaika and Adèle are enjoying playing carnival in their bright costumes, dancing and laughing in the sunshine. But when Mummy announces that they will soon have a new baby brother or sister, Malaika is unsure how to feel about another change in her family. Will Mummy forget about me?

Back at school, Malaika is excited to see her teacher and classmates, and makes friends with a new girl who has recently arrived from a faraway country, just like Malaika. Then on her birthday, a surprise arrives to remind Malaika of the importance of family, and the story ends with a celebration of her family’s love.

Malaika’s Surprise is filled with the same warmth and charm as the first two books in the series, with Nadia L. Hohn’s enchanting prose, written in a blend of standard English and Caribbean patois, and Irene Luxbacher’s colorful collage illustrations.

Key Text Features
key text features

Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:

Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.

Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

About the authors

NADIA L. HOHN is a writer and educator. Her first picture book, Malaika’s Costume, won the Helen Isobel Sissons Canadian Children’s Story Award and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) Children’s Literature Award. She is also the author of Malaika’s Winter Carnival and Malaika’s Surprise, both illustrated by Irene Luxbacher; A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes; Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter, illustrated by Gustavo Mazali; and two titles in the Sankofa series — Music and Media. Nadia’s writing is inspired by her childhood memories, Jamaican heritage, Black culture, world travels, and social issues. She lives in Toronto.


Nadia L. Hohn's profile page


Irene Luxbacher a obtenu son diplôme d'histoire de l'art à l'université Queen's avant d'étudier au Emily Carr College of Art and Design à Vancouver, en Colombie Britannique. En 1994, elle est revenue à Toronto où elle coordonne des expositions d'arts d'enfants en plus d'écrire et d'illustrer des livres dans ce domaine. On lui doit la collection Mes premières oeuvres.


Irene Luxbacher was nominated for the Governor General's Award for her illustrations in Andrew Larsen's The Imaginary Garden and its sequel The Not-So-Faraway Adventure. She has illustrated several other picture books, and her own Deep Underwater, Mattoo, Let’s Play!, and Mr. Frank, as well as eight acclaimed children’s art activity books. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with her husband and young son. You can learn more about her work at

Irene Luxbacher's profile page


  • Nominated, Forest of Reading — Blue Spruce Award

Editorial Reviews

A warm portrayal of a loving, close-knit community.

Horn Book

Malaika’s beautiful interracial family and new friendships make this story a powerful one.

Toronto Star

An enjoyable, feel-good read for young children.

School Library Journal

Malaika’s Surprise offers a refreshing new sibling narrative … [the] joyful, textured illustrations are busy and inviting, like the other titles in this series, and the blend of English and Caribbean patois makes Malaika’s voice sing.

Canadian Children's Book News

Written in a combination of standard English and Caribbean patois, Hohn’s work celebrates family values and acceptance of cultural diversity. Bright and lively illustrations by Irene Luxbacher add to the book’s attraction.

Winnipeg Free Press

[A]n intimate and culturally rich picture book.

Kirkus Reviews

[T]his picture book celebrates the expansion of a family we’ve grown to love.

Quill & Quire

Hohn’s mastery of the craft command[s] a standing ovation.

Cloud Lake Literary

Much of our lives, like Malaika's, involves change and a newness of circumstances. But what Malaika's Surprise demonstrates is that, though newness and change can be stressful because of the anticipation of the unknown, the reality is often not as bad as expected, especially with the knowledge that others care.

CanLit for LittleCanadians

Mailaka’s Surprise celebrates culture, friendship and family in a captivating, warm way.

CM Review of Materials

[A] joyful read.

Huffington Post

Other titles by Nadia L. Hohn

Other titles by Irene Luxbacher

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