In this engaging, inspiring children’s picture book, author Tanitoluwa (Tani) Adewumi relates his story and that of his Christian family who lived “in a home that felt as secure as a castle, in a fine neighborhood in Nigeria.” However, in 2009, everything changed when the terrorist group, Boko Haram, ordered Tani’s father, owner of a print shop, to publish posters promoting hateful messages. Tani’s father refused, and the family fled their city and, eventually, the country. Accepted as refugees in the United States, they moved into a homeless shelter in New York City with hearts filled with gratitude to God for his provision.
As 6-year-old Tani struggled with culture shock and disorientation at his new school, he attended a class on learning how to play chess. Tani begged his mom to allow him to join the chess club, and even though they couldn’t afford the fee, she arranged with the coach for Tani to attend free of charge.
When Coach Ross taught the students that the people who excelled in chess were the ones who worked the hardest, Tani realized that “chess wasn’t about where you lived or what you owned. Chess was about hard work.”
Tani did work hard, competing in numerous tournaments till, at 8 years of age, he qualified to enter the New York state championship—and won. After the story of Tani’s victory appeared in The New York Times, including the fact that he and his family lived in a shelter, people throughout the world reached out to the family to give them money and help provide for their needs in other ways.
Author notes give added insight into the Adewumis’ Christian faith by relating how, upon receiving a place to stay in a homeless shelter, Tani’s dad said, “Let us show our appreciation for this blessing by being a blessing to others.” His dad’s words stuck with Tani and motivated him to help other kids. In fact, the Adewumis donated all the money they received due to publicity to help other needy children learn how to play chess. A blessing, indeed!