Amani, Mary Jo. (2012). Excuse Me, I’m Trying to Read!. Traverse City, MI: Mackinac Island Press.
Mary Jo Amani’s children’s book, Excuse Me, I’m Trying to Read! is great fun and very clever. The illustrations by Lehla Eldrige are safari-themed—animals ranging from impalas and rhinos to dung beetles and elephants fill the uniquely drawn pages, documenting the plight of a young girl’s attempt to read in the midst of the daily busyness and fascinating distractions of the African bush. The young girl’s struggle to stay focused on her book is in earnest. Reading is so important that not even zebras should get in the way! The unique illustrations of African villages and landscape add to the appeal of each page. This winner of the 2011 National Association of Elementary School Principals’ Best Children’s Picture Book Award is a book that children will love—and one that their parents will enjoy reading over and over to them. Mary Jo Amani is the wife of USAID Foreign Service officer Todd Amani. She wrote the book as part of a series directed toward early readers (ages 2 to 8) for a community library program in Mozambique.