Title: Imani’s Music

Author: Sheron Williams

Illustrator: Jude Daly

Publisher: New York: Simon & Schuster Children’s Division, 2002

Genre: Picture book, fiction told as a folk tale

Audience Age: 5-9

Theme: Music, African-American history, slavery, storytelling, storytelling through song

Opening Sentences: “Born during the planting season of eighteen nine and aught, my grandfather W.D. was a man of the ‘Used-to-Be’ who resided in the ‘Here-and-Now’ ‘cause time and living life had dragged him there. He was hailed in five counties as a storyteller that could wrestle a tale to the ground. He danced on the path ‘tween the ‘Used-to-Be,’ the ‘Here-and-Now,’ and the ‘What’s-Gon’-Come.’”

Synopsis: W.D. weaves a magical story of how music came to the people in Africa. At first The Ancestors kept music to themselves, but one grasshopper, Amani, discovered the beautiful sounds he could make and The Ancestors favored him with the gift of music. Gradually music spread throughout the land. Amani became friends with a man who was captured and put on a slave ship, and it happened that Amani was with him. Amani despaired at first, but his friend encouraged him to share his music. His music brought hope to those people who had been wrenched from their homes. As they rebuilt their lives, as slaves, on the North American continent, Amani continued to spread hope through his music.

Activities/Resources: Although I couldn’t find activities specifically connected to this book, there is a wealth of activities related to Black History Month, to slave music, and to African-American history and storytelling. Here are a few links: from African Heritage, a wonderfully extensive list of links to free activities on an array of subjects  ; from Teaching Today, lesson plans on Movement and Music: an Introduction to Slavery  ; and from Lesson Planet, lesson plans on music and narrative in African-American history. Children could also be encouraged to make up their own folk tales, to act out the story of Imani and his music, and to learn to sing some of the shouts, songs and spirituals that are a part of this period in African-American history.

Availability: Unfortunately, this book is out of print. It is available in libraries, or in the used-book market from sites such as abebooks.com.

# 12 in Perfect Picture Book Fridays. See all this week’s Perfect Picture Books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog, or find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”


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