All Things Kenyan

Joshua’s Masai Mask By Dakari Hru

Title:Joshua’s Masai Mask
Author: Dakari Hru
Illustrator: Anna Rich
Number of Pages: 29
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
Publishing Company: Lee& Low Books Inc.
Original Publishing Date: 1993

Joshua’s Masai Mask is a children’s book about a young African (possibly African American) boy who is going to be in his school’s talent show. His whole family was excited – they told him how great he would be when he played his kalimba. Now Joshua didn’t want to play the kalimba, he wanted to be like another boy in his school that was really popular. Kareem was funny and talented and got a lot of attention from the other kids. They all liked him. Joshua felt that he wasn’t as good as Kareem.

Joshua was rummaging through his uncle’s shop when he came upon a Masai mask made of ostrich feathers. His uncle told him to be careful with the mask – it listens to what you tell it.

Later on that evening, Joshua was looking through the Masai mask into his mirror. He wished he was Kareem. When he put down the mask he got quite a shock – he was Kareem. Now, I’m not going to tell the rest of the story, but there is a happy resolution to Joshua’s talent show problem.

What I Liked:
The illustrations by Anna Rich are very colorful and well done. They would certainly capture any child’s imagination. They are full of detail and something that you can look at for a long time.

What I Didn’t Like:
I read this book because of the title “Joshua’s Masai Mask”. I was hoping for a story about a Masai boy. It’s not clear which African tribe this little boy or his family may be from or even what country. The only thing Masai or even Kenyan about the book is the Masai mask. I was hoping for more about the Masai tribe in Kenya. That maybe Joshua had earned his mask through an act of bravery as a Masai moran. Or maybe Joshua was part of a Masai family that had moved to the United States. Clearly, I had expectations for this book that didn’t pan out for me. However, it is still a good book and I feel that most children up to third grade will enjoy it.

American Bookseller “Pick of the Lists”

I borrowed this copy of Joshua’s Masai Mask from my local public library.