Imani's Music by Sheron Williams, Jude Daly |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Imani's Music

Imani's Music

by Sheron Williams, Jude Daly
     
 
Every once in awhile, Grandfather would tell a story about the land of Used-to-Be.

This was how his story began: Used to be a time when there was no music on the planet. Only one tiny creature, a grass-hopper named Imani, was blessed with the gift of music.

Imani sang his beautiful songs alone, all the while praying, Please, Ancestors, give music to

Overview

Every once in awhile, Grandfather would tell a story about the land of Used-to-Be.

This was how his story began: Used to be a time when there was no music on the planet. Only one tiny creature, a grass-hopper named Imani, was blessed with the gift of music.

Imani sang his beautiful songs alone, all the while praying, Please, Ancestors, give music to the world. Answering his prayer, they shook music out of the sky, pouring song on Africa's mountain ranges, on the grasslands, all the way to the shore.

But when Imani is swept onto a slave ship and taken across the ocean, he doesn't know where to turn, and music is his only guide.

Sheron William's rich story of a grass-hopper's special gift -- complemented by Jude Daly's stunning depictions of Africa and the New World, Heaven and Earth -- is a testament to the universal language of music.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Used to be a time when there was no music on the planet," imagines Williams (And in the Beginning). But Imani, an African grasshopper, plays so sweetly that the Ancestors agree to give him the gift of song: "A wallop of tune fell on Imani, and the world soaked up the rest like a sponge." As the grasshopper travels across Africa, singing and playing, he meets Umoja, a weaver who plays the flute. When slave traders capture Umoja (and Imani with him), the man is chained while Imani escapes notice. What can he do? "Do not cry. Busy yourself with what you can do. Give us music! Give us hope!" Umoja tells him. In the new land, Imani finds a wife, Hope (she translates Imani's name as Faith), and teaches his children to sing, but he never again finds Umoja. Slaves in the new world learn Imani's songs, too. "Sometimes they sang them bittersweet, but they always sang on!" Daly's (Gift of the Sun) diminutive figures move through rolling landscapes of ocher earth and lapis sky; their very smallness suggests lives lived within nature, not in opposition to it. Even the menacing slave ships are dwarfed by the unchanging horizons of sea and sky. Both a eulogy for the lost freedom of countless captives and a celebration of the land from which they came, Williams's moving tale never skips a beat. Ages 6-9. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"Used to be a time when there was no music on the planet," imagines Williams (And in the Beginning). But Imani, an African grasshopper, plays so sweetly that the Ancestors agree to give him the gift of song: "A wallop of tune fell on Imani, and the world soaked up the rest like a sponge." As the grasshopper travels across Africa, singing and playing, he meets Umoja, a weaver who plays the flute. When slave traders capture Umoja (and Imani with him), the man is chained while Imani escapes notice. What can he do? "Do not cry. Busy yourself with what you can do. Give us music! Give us hope!" Umoja tells him. In the new land, Imani finds a wife, Hope (she translates Imani's name as Faith), and teaches his children to sing, but he never again finds Umoja. Slaves in the new world learn Imani's songs, too. "Sometimes they sang them bittersweet, but they always sang on!" Daly's (Gift of the Sun) diminutive figures move through rolling landscapes of ocher earth and lapis sky; their very smallness suggests lives lived within nature, not in opposition to it. Even the menacing slave ships are dwarfed by the unchanging horizons of sea and sky. Both a eulogy for the lost freedom of countless captives and a celebration of the land from which they came, Williams's moving tale never skips a beat. Ages 6-9. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Opening as a story told in a grandfather's dialect, Imani's Music becomes a pourquoi tale describing how music came to the New World on a slave ship from Africa. Imani, a grasshopper, learned the songs of the ancestors on the Serengeti Plain, shared the gift of music with the people and traveled with them across the ocean. Williams' lyrical writing reminds us of the best of what music has meant for many African Americans. "In this new land you must live, love, work, and comfort one another, bound together by new songs," advises Imani. Learning that Imani marries a grasshopper named Hope and takes the name of Faith, the reader recognizes the positive message Williams intends to convey. The gentle, poetic framing of the text is only partially matched by Jude Daly's illustrations, however. The clear, bright, folk-art technique appropriately evokes an eighteenth-century era, but recurrent images of whips, chains and the dark ship's hold are graphic statements about the horrors of the middle passage. Parents and teachers will need to consider carefully whether their young readers are ready for this particular combination of history, art and story. 2002, Atheneum, $17.00. Ages 8 up. Reviewer: Anne Field
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-In this story within a story, a narrator recounts her grandfather's tale about a time when there was no music. The grasshopper, Imani, loved to stay out in the rain and enjoy the gift of music the Ancestors sent to earth along with each rainstorm. But feeling this gift was too wonderful to keep to himself, he begged the Ancestors to send music to the whole world. Soon all of Africa rang with glorious sounds. When Imani was taken aboard a slave ship in the sack of one of the prisoners, it was his music that gave his suffering companions hope. Once on the shores of a strange land, Imani traveled, teaching his songs to the people and to his own children, and those songs can still be heard today. The text effectively evokes the voice of an old Southern storyteller spinning a tale in dialect about a land that "Used-to-Be." Listeners will enjoy making the "Cush, cush, cush" sounds of the boats; the "Lap, lap, lap" of the waves; and the "Clink, clink, clink" of the chains. The folk-art watercolor illustrations are a perfect foil for the homespun feel of the text. If they look carefully, readers will see Imani himself in almost every picture. The sun-drenched colors depicting the African landscape where people and animals live in joyous harmony contrast sharply with the dark palette used to depict the harsh realities of the slave ship's journey. A fine tribute to storytelling and the power of music to enrich and heal.-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this riveting original tale, Imani, an African grasshopper, first persuades the Ancestors to give the ability to make music to everything on earth, then carries his own special songs on a slave ship to the New World. Writing in a poetic, powerfully expressive idiom-"He danced on the path 'tween the �Used-to-Be,' the �Here-and-Now,' and the �What's-Gon'-Come.' Shoot, it was folks like him that fed the path and kept it alive"-Williams (And in the Beginning, 1992, etc.) captures not only a sharp sense of the joy Imani takes in creating music, but the strength of spirit required to keep at it on the long Middle Passage. "He learned new songs. He sang them bittersweet, but he sang on!" And after the voyage, when he went on to teach his music to those who also came over, they too sang on. A modern, young narrator tells the tale as one heard from her grandfather; using sinuous, stylized figures in both symbolic and literal ways, Daly (The Star-Bearer, p. 110, etc.) takes viewers in stages from the narrator's time, to the distant past and back. She ends on a moonlit country road, down which walk Grandfather and his young audience, listening to the music of Imani's many descendants. A rare, resplendent combination of history, folklore, strong imagery, and evocative storytelling. (Picture book. 7-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780689822544
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
02/01/2002
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
8.81(w) x 11.33(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
AD760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Sheron Williams writes:

I was born and raised Sheron Renay Williams during the "putting down and canning" season in Hampton, Virginia. In my life, I have had the privilege to safely drift far from that time and space, searching for uniqueness, adventure, love, and me.

People often ask me why I write. I write to experience the power of words, to twist them and turn them and make my readers feel and think. I hope that what is important to me, what I think, what I feel, will remain for others to know.

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