My Name is Tani… And I Believe in Miracles – Book Review

My name is Tani and I believe in miracles

My Name is Tani… And I Believe in Miracles

Age Group: 10+
Author: Tanitoluwa Adewumi with Kayode and Oluwatoyin Adewui and Craig Borlase
No.of pages: 208
Type: Chapter Book (Memoir)
Format: Paper Back
Price: INR 299
Published By: Harper Collins Children’s Books

Tanitoluwa (Tani) Adewumi is the eight-year-old Nigerian-born boy who recently won the New York State Chess Championship after playing the game for only a year. This book is his story, a memoir written by him with the help of his parents and a professional writer.

Tani’s story begins in their native country, Nigeria where they become targets of Boko Haram’s reign of terror. They escape to New York City and land up in a shelter for the homeless, where they wait to be granted religious asylum. Tani’s father, Kayode, hails from a royal family in Nigeria, becomes a dishwasher and an Uber driver to support his family. Tani’s mother, Oluwatoyin, worked at a bank for more than eight years in Nigeria, now began training to become a home health aide.

While at school, Tani wanted to join the chess program but felt it is unlikely since they’d have to pay. But his mother wrote to his coach, who offered Tani a scholarship. The 8-year-old Tani jumped into his new life with courage and determination —and an extraordinary mind for chess. After joining the chess club in his New York City public school, Tani practiced his game for hours in the evenings at the shelter. Then he began competing in the renowned chess clubs of New York City. And winning—over and over again. And in less than a year after he learned to play, Tani won the New York State chess championship.  The result is not only a miracle in a chess competition but also the rescue and redemption for his family.

This nonfiction is a remarkable true story about sacrificing everything for the family, living with hope, and sharing generously what they received to discover the greatest riches of all.  In today’s world where diversity and hate seem to make headlines every day, Tani’s indomitable spirit reminds us of the power of kindness and the value of unity and a reminder that miracles do happen. Told from the perspective of both Tani and his parents, this story is touching and reaffirms that faith and persistence will triumph over adversity and inspires us to believe in miracles.

The plot and the story are immersive and moving and well narrated in simple language. The book throws in some Chess Tips along with immigrant experiences. While the book is about a little boy’s rise to glory, it is an ideal read for anyone in need of some motivation.

If you want to learn even more about Tani, you might want to listen to his story on NPR.

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Book Review - My Name is Tani and I believe in Miracles


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After reading this book:

  1. Identify and write down all the motivational quotes you read in this book or you learnt from this story.
  2. Learn about the history of chess.
  3. Explore the world of chess and chess players.
  4. Playing chess has many benefits. Learn to play chess or indulge in a game of chess.
  5. Write a note or make a poster about immigrants and the problems the face.

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