Imani endures the insults heaped upon her by the other village children, but she never gives up her dreams.
The Masai girl is tiny compared to the other children, but she is full of imagination and perseverance. Luckily, she has a mother who believes in her and tells her stories that will fuel that imagination. Mama tells her about the moon goddess, Olapa, who wins over the sun god. She tells Imani about Anansi, the trickster spider who vanquishes a larger snake. (Troublingly, the fact that Anansi is a West African figure, not of the Masai, goes unaddressed in both text and author’s note.) Inspired, the tiny girl tries to find new ways to achieve her dream: to touch the moon. One day, after crashing to the ground yet again when her leafy wings fail, she is ready to forget her hopes. That night, she witnesses the adumu, the special warriors’ jumping dance. Imani wakes the next morning, determined to jump to the moon. After jumping all day, she reaches the moon, meets Olapa and receives a special present from the goddess, a small moon rock. Now she becomes the storyteller when she relates her adventure to Mama. The watercolor-and-graphite illustrations have been enhanced digitally, and the night scenes of storytelling and fantasy with their glowing stars and moons have a more powerful impact than the daytime scenes, with their blander colors.
While the blend of folklore, fantasy and realism is certainly far-fetched, Imani, with her winning personality, is a child to be admired. (Picture book. 5-8)