Imani's Undersea Adventure

Children - Picture Book
36 Pages
Reviewed on 12/05/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Kristine Zimmerman for Readers' Favorite

Imani's Undersea Adventure by T. M. Jackson takes place in an aquarium. Imani, a young black girl, and her grandfather are touring the aquarium. As her grandfather starts to share with her facts about the aquatic life they are seeing, Imani notices a scuba diver in the tanks. Her grandfather takes this opportunity to share with her what the young woman is doing. He also points out some young black female marine scientists that are teaching young people like herself about the oceans. As they continue to tour the aquarium, her grandfather shares with her some other important facts about black history. Imani listens and absorbs all the things her grandfather is sharing with her and decides that someday she would like to study sharks too.

Imani's Undersea Adventure is a fantastic children's book. Imani and her grandfather have a tight loving bond. What T. M. Jackson does so well is incorporate facts about black history seamlessly into the story. As a former children's librarian, this is exactly the type of book that I would purchase for my library. The story is engaging and positive and presents information that most young children don't get exposed to in a very accessible way. The illustrations by Darwin Marfil are expressive and enhance the story, especially the bond that Imani shares with her grandfather. Imani's Undersea Adventure is an uplifting story that will encourage all kids, especially young black girls, to pursue their dreams. I highly recommend Imani's Undersea Adventure for all public and school libraries!

Kathy Golden

Imani's Undersea Adventure by T.M. Jackson is one of the best children’s books I have read. Here’s the story of a little girl and her grandfather visiting an aquarium containing sharks. As they visit, her grandfather provides her with wonderful facts about the sharks in the tanks. Equally as important, he educates her with an engaging part of history about African Americans and their roles in marine science.

The first great aspect of this story is the way in which the author has given us these two generations of young and old. Little Imani is filled with the kinds of questions natural to a child and that only someone with her grandfather's knowledge and experience could answer in such detail. The book is packed with important history and facts that educate not only children but adults who don’t know the things contained within it. Imani begins her adventure as a child frightened of sharks and finishes as a child enriched with the new awareness of not just marine life, but of herself, as an African American with unlimited possibilities. This expansion of her mind, this broadening of her insight into what she can be, and of how not to allow fear to keep her from daring to become one of the extraordinary women she learns about, is the greatest accomplishment of this book. Second, the illustrations are large and vivid and pull readers right into the world of the book. The drawings of Imani and her grandfather capture the undeniable love and comfortableness between the two of them and the bond that is destined to always be there.

Author T.M. Jackson concludes the book with links to excellent sources designed to introduce black children to aquatics and marine sciences. All in all, the story provides history and insight, and inspiration all by way of helping a little girl to know she is more than she’d previously imagined.

Jamie Michele

Imani's Undersea Adventure, written by T. M. Jackson and illustrated by Darwin Marfil, is a children's picture book that revolves around the titular character, a young girl named Imani, and a day she spends with her Grandpapa. Imani looks through the glass into a massive shark reef aquarium and immediately expresses emotions of fear and discomfort. Grandpapa explains to her that sharks aren't nearly as scary as they look or as they are frequently made out to be, but Imani remains skeptical even as she watches a scuba diver enter the aquarium to feed the sharks. Grandpapa describes in detail the work marine biologists do and the inextricable link between black history and the ocean, educating Imani on her own ancestral links to the Atlantic slave trade. Imani comes to understand the strides black Americans have made but that there is still a long way to go. Imani returns to the tank inspired by those who paved the way before her and her own that no longer includes a fear of sharks.

Imani's Undersea Adventure is an outstanding piece of children's literature with a message that is clear, leaving no room for the ambiguity that often clouds a lesson written with a softer touch. And I am so grateful for it. T. M. Jackson writes with intent and authority, conveying truth through a grandfather who wants to be certain his granddaughter knows the journey her family and black Americans are fighting to rise up from. Imani has more than her Grandpapa did but it still isn't all she deserves. There needs to be more than just three framed photos of black women who have pioneered STEM through their work as marine biologists and Imani has the potential to make that happen. Illustrator Darwin Marfil breathes life into Jackson's story with stunning use of primary and jewel-toned colors. The blend of vibrant imagery on spread illustrations is the perfect combination in a book that reflects a child my daughter can see herself in, and that I'm proud to have in the bedtime rotation.