My title is Tani from Tanitoluwa Adewumi

My title is Tani from Tanitoluwa Adewumi

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My name is Tani is the hopeful true story of a boy who finds a place and a passion in America.

My name is Tani. . . and I believe in miracles from Tanitoluwa Adewumi with Craig Borlase (Young Reader Edition). Thomas Nelson, 2020, 195 pages.

Read level: Intermediate, 8-10

Recommended for: 8-14 years

“There are miracles all around us. All you have to do is look. “Tani Adewumi had a comfortable life in Abuja, Nigeria, until he was five years old. Then the trouble started. His father owned a print shop and his mother worked at a bank so that they could afford a nice home with all the amenities. Big brother Austin didn't mind having a little brother on trips with big children, and the family faithfully attended church and prayed together.

The trouble started when Boko Haram ordered a print job from Mr. Adewumi, which the latter declined: a poster that denounced Christians. The radical Muslim group responsible (and still is) responsible for thousands of kidnappings and murders of Christians harassed the Abuja family in the smaller town of Akure, but Boko Haram found them again. Men surrounded the house and threatened to break in more than once, but prayer stopped them every time. However, the threats were a warning: the family sought asylum in America for their own safety.

The transition was not particularly smooth. Her first refuge was in Dallas with a grandmother and an uncle in a crowded apartment. Family tensions escalated until Tani's parents moved to New York, where a local church helped them move to a former hotel that is now a homeless shelter. Dad found a job washing dishes and mom started training as a nurse. The boys had to go to school, of course, and Tani was still anxiously groping for P.S. 116 when he decided to try the chess club.

A year later, at the age of eight, he won the state boy's chess championship.

Tami tells his own story in a casual style that is easy to read and relate. He shares what he found strange in America ("cheese. I just don't understand it") and thanks his two chess coaches to P.S. 116 and ascribes to Jesus that he miraculously led the family to the United States and took care of all of their needs. (His gratitude to America is also encouraging.) Because this is a Young Reader edition, details of refugee resettlement and bureaucracy are lacking, as is some dramatic tension. Everything from the perspective of a nine-year-old whose personality appears on the page. Readers will enjoy watching him grow stronger in the game, and some may be inspired to play chess himself.

Overall rating: 4.5 (of 5)

  • Weltanschauung / moral value: 5
  • Artistic / literary value: 3.75

Also with Redeemed Reader:

  • Tani is inspired by the story of Malala Yousafzai in his first year at P.S. 116; see our review of your autobiography, I am malala.
  • If your teenager likes to play chess, read our review of the YA novel. Grand Master.

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