Imani and the Flying Africans

Janice Liddell, Author, Linda Nickiens, Illustrator, Linda Nickens, Illustrator Africa World Press $6.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-86543-366-3
Some readers may recognize the story-within-a-story here as a version of the folktale recorded by Virginia Hamilton in The People Could Fly-a myth handed down from slave days about a band of Africans who flew away from their captors. Imani, being taken from Detroit to Savannah to visit his grandparents and great-grandmother for the first time, is stunned to learn that his great-great-grandmother was a slave: ``I never knew we had slaves in our family!'' As she drives, Imani's mother helps him find a place in his family's history by telling him the tale of the flying Africans. The journey takes a jarring and somewhat melodramatic turn when Imani is kidnapped. He escapes with the help of an old woman who tells him to live up to his name (Imani means ``faith'') and fly away, which he does. It turns out that Imani has been dreaming-but, waking up at the end of the trip, he recognizes his great-grandmother as the old woman in his dream. Liddell's story needs pruning but the foundation is a powerful one. Nickens's impressionistic illustrations have a dreamlike quality that reinforce the tone of the text. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
Hardcover - 1 pages - 978-0-86543-365-6
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-613-89159-2
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