Carefree, Like Me!: Chapter 2: Sacra the Joyous, by Rashad Malik Davis, introduces young readers to fantasy, friendship, and cultural diversity. Envisioned as a series of seven picture books, the second chapter will be released in late-February 2019.
The story stars two friends, the skinny brown-skinned Amir and his best friend Neena, a girl with big glasses and a deep golden-tan.
In the first chapter, Amir complains to his father about being bored and his father responds by giving him a magical amulet. The amulet transports Amir and Neena to a spirit world where they must heroically restore balance to move onto their next adventure.
Chapter 2 opens with a recap of the first chapter grandly presented on a scroll held by the children’s spirit guide, the many-tailed, fox-like creature, Ritu.
At the start of Chapter 2, Ritu gives Amir and Neena cryptic clues about their next adventure before abruptly disappearing.
With their guide gone, the children begin to explore the land in search of… anything! At first, it seems like nothing other than sun and sand exists in this spirit world, but the children soon stumble upon a city. Because the land is so dry, the city’s inhabitants have little food and water. Consequently, they are too weak to help the children.
Refusing to give up, Amir and Neena hear a flute and follow the sound. Ichtaka, the flute player, is feathered-man. He laughs knowingly when he sees the children and helps them grasp their task. They must bring balance to the dry desert landscape by helping the goddess Sacra find her joy.
Neena is sure they can work together to help the city dwellers by helping Sacra. But, when they reach Sacra, she immediately demands they leave. Neena again takes the lead and refuses. In the end, it is the children’s impressive friendship that wins Sacra over, encouraging her to let it rain.
Davis provides readers with a wonderful discussion guide focused on emotional literacy, useful facts about the Aztec civilization that inspired his story, and information about his source material.
Davis is truly multi-talented. He uses his impressive artistic and literary skills to create a series that makes fantasy, suspense, and adventure available to young readers. Davis’ rhymes add a quirkiness and sense of humor to the story that keep it from being too heavy for his youngest readers. Even more, his images are colorful and comic. He employs exaggeration, especially in facial features, that help young readers master visual cues and fully grasp the emotional import of the story.
I recommend Davis’s Carefree, Like Me! series for personal and school libraries. The books are fun family reads and teachers will be able to plan several lessons around them.
Preorder from the author and he’ll send stickers and a PDF of coloring pages as a “thank you”!