Young readers will enjoy armchair travel as they learn about school in Rwanda, but they will wish that the story was more fully developed.
Best friends Clarity and Juliet travel from Chicago to Africa to visit the Kigali High School, meeting a new friend and celebrating her graduation. “Muharo. I’m Amani. I’m from Rwanda. I’ve lost my homework! I can’t seem to find it anywhere!” Amani quickly finds her homework and then asks ultraorganized Juliet to keep it safe until she needs to turn it in, which is moments before graduation. Energetic narration fits the upbeat tone of the story; word highlighting is effective, especially as key words pop out for emphasis. Unfortunately, it’s never clear if readers are supposed to focus on Amani’s missing homework, her graduation or Clarity’s missing homework, which Juliet has inexplicably lost. The character of Amani is based on a Rwandan girl who has just graduated from a high school funded by the nonprofit organization Every Child is My Child. Readers can take a detour from the story to see photographs from Amani’s school and watch a video about school in Rwanda. While the photographs and videos give a real sense of Rwandan life, they also serve to throw into relief the inadequacies of the story.
The real Amani shines as the star through photographs of her school in Rwanda, but the fictional story is flat and unrewarding. (iPad storybook app. 5-10)