Imani in the Belly

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like the story of Jonah's voyage to the bottom of the whale's belly, Chocolate's (My First Kwanzaa Book) exuberant retelling of a Swahili folktale is an engrossing physical and spiritual adventure. Stricken with grief after her children are swallowed by Simba, ``the horrible King of Beasts,'' Imani is visited in a dream by her mother, who tells her to ``gather your faith and go after the beast.'' Imani, too, is swallowed, but helps her children and others escape by starting a fire in the Beast's belly. The behemoth disappears, ``and because [the villagers] believed in themselves and their power, the people became a great nation.'' Just as Imani's journey of self-discovery exemplifies faith and courage, this book may help readers find their own ``Imani''-the Kwanzaa principle of faith in oneself and one's ancestors. Debut illustrator Boies brings far-off Africa closer to home, too, with bright, dynamic cut-paper compositions of flora, fauna and people in traditional garb. She also does a singularly good job of incorporating text blocks into the illustrations. A striking work. Ages 5-9. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-In the Kiswahili language of East Africa, imani means faith. This folktale, adapted from a South African collection published in 1886, features a woman named Imani who must travel each day to market while her three children remain at home alone. Even though she warns them to stay inside, they eventually fall victim to Simba, the King of the Beasts. As Imani mourns, her own mother appears to her and advises her to go after the animal, then to let her faith guide her as to what to do next. She confronts Simba, who swallows her whole; in his belly she starts a fire that ultimately frees her and her children. This tale has much in common with stories from other traditions, including the Biblical story of Jonah. Along with John Steptoe's Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters (Lothrop, 1987), it can be used to show how certain themes in folklore exist across cultures. The gouache illustrations are bright and colorful, although they tend to distort the characters' facial features. Unlike his Disney namesake, Simba is a frightening, surreal creature. Chocolate uses some outdated terms-drawn, perhaps, from her original source-and the writing drags in places, but there is still much here that is familiar and appealing.-Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Siena College Library, Loudonville, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816734672
  • Publisher: Troll Communications L.L.C.
  • Publication date: 1/1/1996
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 0.08 (d)

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