Think of books that transport readers into adventures like The Neverending Story or The Pagemaster. Now add a dash of Percy Jackson; you know, a young boy learns he has a family history that gives him abilities he hasn't realized were possible. Go ahead and toss in a couple of close friends for support (you can't really have a great adventure without friends). And then mix it all with a large measure of African mythology. Voila! Now you have the basic recipe for Cameron Battle and his incredible journey to the Hidden Kingdoms.
Jamar J. Perry has written a story that features a well-loved Black boy being raised by his grandmother after the death of his parents. When he has a sleepover with a couple of friends they wind up confronting monsters in the backyard and then being swept away into a kingdom magically sealed off from the rest of the world. This hidden land is in the midst of a power struggle between two sisters who disagree on what is best for their people. The argument dates back to the time of slave traders snatching people from the Igbo tribes and sending them away from Africa. Although those raids are over, the sisters still disagree about the future of their people and Cameron and his friends are pulled into the conflict.
The setting is full of details to appeal to readers' senses. The vegetation, the clothing, the weather, the foods all offer colors, scents, and tastes that make the scenes come alive. Training in martial arts, riding gryphons, battles with evil undead spirits, and flashbacks to past events keep the pace moving quickly. And there are emotional scenes as Cameron learns the true story of his parents' deaths and deals with his grief, as well as the feeling of responsibility for the safety of his friends.
If you know middle grade readers who like the type of stories in Rick Riordan presents and similar series, then have them try out Cameron Battle. Just published in February, it is something new to add to wish-lists and TBR piles.
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