cover image Joshua's Masai Mask

Joshua's Masai Mask

Anna Rich, Dakari Hru. Lee & Low Books, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-1-880000-02-1

This multicultural tale (the debut of both collaborators) concerns Joshua, who has been coaxed by his family into playing an authentic African instrument--the kalimba--in his school's talent show . At the first rehearsal, however, he is so daunted by the confidence and popularity of two musical classmates that he goes home in shame. Joshua's uncle (who gave him the kalimba in the first place) now presents him with a Masai mask, which Joshua discovers gives him the ability to become whomever he chooses. He becomes first the young rapper he envied, then a celebrity rapper, then the Mayor--until he realizes he would really just like to be himself. Thanks to Hru's spirited, conversational style, this ``grass is greener'' fantasy evinces a light touch and genuine warmth--a story centering on real children with real feelings. Children may well take pride in recognizing themselves in Rich's bold artwork, bursting with bright hues and humor. A satisfying read for children of any color, this book will easily come alive at story hours as well as in the hands of individual readers. Ages 3-10. (Apr.)