Neema’s Reason to Smile
by Patricia Newman, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
Lightswitch Learning, 2018
Author Patricia Newman cleverly weaves Africa into every scene in her story, Neema’s Reason to Smile. From elephants taking mud baths, she introduces Africa culture with descriptions that include, “…my bare feet trace the dusty path that unwinds like a cheetah’s tail…” and “A thought buzzes like a mosquito.” Newman also shows how the whole village supports Neema’s dream.
In this story, Neema wants more than anything to go to school, but she and her mama don’t have enough money. Everyday Neema sells fruit to drop a coin or two into her dream basket. One day she sees a girl running by in a school uniform. Excited there might be a new school she could attend, she follows the girl, but several times she stops to sell fruit and loses sight of the girl. Neema persists everyday she goes to market until she finally arrives at the school. Her dream met, she assigns a new dream to her basket.