Msomaji’s Magic Carpet, by Tiffany Smith
My review: ★★★★★
This story centers on Msomaji, a girl from the south side of Chicago whose family has never had money to travel. She dreams of seeing the world, especially Paris. Her parents encourage her to dream big, to work hard, and to keep faith that she can make her dreams come true. With the support of her friends and family, she uses her imagination, a trip to a museum, and a trip to a local restaurant to visualize the travel and the places she wants to visit someday. Finally she gets an opportunity to enter a school essay contest to compete for a trip to New Orleans.
There are several things I love about this story. Foremost is the encouragement to dream big and visualize success: “If you want it, claim it, and put in the work.” That’s a powerful lesson for kids in any circumstance. I also appreciate the way Msomaji and her family find ways to stay happy and learn even when they can’t have everything they want. And finally the way she really puts in the work — this doesn’t just end with “and then she easily got what she wanted!” — she spends weeks working on her essay and worrying over it. It makes the story a lot more approachable; kids who don’t feel confident will hopefully take heart in seeing that life doesn’t come easy for Msomaji either. It’s a great empowerment story.
Not to mention, I love travel and food too, and I think it’s important for everyone to get to know the world outside where they grew up. This book will hopefully encourage more kids to broaden their horizons. Recommended reading for kids 6-10 (a 6-year-old might have trouble reading alone but they’d enjoy hearing the story). Great for classrooms and libraries.