Allison's Book Bag

Imani’s Moon by Janay Brown-Wood

Posted on: February 25, 2015

Imani’s Moon by Janay Brown-Wood is an inspiring, sweet, and fantastical tale of a Masai girl who is determined to reach the moon. The watercolor and graphite illustrations in this picture book are equally moving, vibrant, and delightful to behold.

Janay Brown-Wood grew up with her family being an integral being part of her life. She refers to them as her rock. This sentiment shines through in the close connection shared by Imani and her mother. Imani’s short stature–she is the smallest child in her village–opens her up to ridicule. At times the taunts causes Imani to doubt that someone as insignificant as her can do something as great as reach the moon. She finds encouragement in her mother who every night lifts her spirits with stories. Her mother also holds her tight and tells her: “It is you who must believe.”

Perseverance is often considered key to one’s dream. Case in point, Wood waited eight years to see Imani’s Moon in print. Along the way, ones even advised her to give up and to self-publish. Similarly, Imani’s Moon is the story of a young girl who perseveres even when others are telling her to quit. The other children in her village laugh at her ambition. Local animals jeer at her and act confused. What I most appreciate most about this magical tale is that when Imani does pick herself back up, her dreams don’t simply come true. Instead, her dreams require perseverance and effort. Every day, Imani worked at reaching her dreams.


There are a couple other aspects of Imani’s Moon that I wish to commend too. First, although the story is fantastical, it stretches belief in a plausible way. Of course, in real life, no one can touch the moon by ordinary means. Over time, I came to accept that Imani could, because one day she climbed the highest tree, another day she used wings to soar from a tree, and a third day she jumped higher and higher and higher…. There’s also the little detail about animals who talk, as well as the stories her mother tells of mythical heroes.

Finally, I appreciate how accurately Masai culture is depicted. The title page shows the straw-covered huts, penned cattle, and flat-topped trees of Africa. When the children tease Imani, they scoff that is no higher than “a lion’s cub knee” and warn her not to let “meerkats stomp on your head”. Imani’s mother wears the characteristic clothing and jewelry of the Masai. Leaves, berries, snakes, and monkeys are all a natural part of Imani’s world. Even the solution, which involves warriors and celebrations, is drawn from Masai culture. Wood also includes an Author’s Note that describes the Masai dance and folklore.

Imani’s Moon is a creative rendition of the moral, “Don’t give up.” I also enjoyed how each night Imani’s mother would share stories to her daughter, but then at the end of the book Imani herself has her own story to tell. Everything about this picture book is positive, including my praise of it. 🙂

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.

How would you rate this book?

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