Title: Zahrah the Windseeker
Author: Nnedi Okoroafor-Mbachu
Publisher: Farafina Books/ HMH Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 320/308
Type of Book: Fantasy, Fiction; African
Price: N500; $7.51
Zahrah is a 13-year-old girl born with dadalocks in a kingdom where people with dadalocks are looked upon as strange. She is quiet, shy, constantly bullied and afraid of heights. All these change when one night, Zahrah finds herself floating off her bed. Her quest for knowledge eventually leads her and her best friend Dari, into the Forbidden Greeny Jungle where Dari is bitten by a war snake whose venom sends him into a coma. Only the serum from an unfertilized elgort egg can save Dari’s life. Zahrah has four weeks to enter the depths of the Forbidden Greeny Jungle to find and steal an unfertilized egg from an elgort, the fastest, most vicious animal in the Jungle.
THUMBS UP AND DOWN
UP: Everything!! Again, Nnedi kept me up till 4am. I read this book some seven years ago and it made a huge impression on me!! It was a pleasure to read again! And I will definitely read it some more in the future! Nnedi Okoroafor’s imagination is out of this world. Her use of language is fantastic! Her story world is described in such detail that the reader is easily sucked into it! Zahrah the Windseeker is African Magical realism at its best!!! The plot, the characters were so well fleshed out but the highlight of the book for me: The Setting!!
The book is set in the Ooni Kingdom, a kingdom that is dominated by plants. The houses are made of plants, the towers and sky scrapers as well, the computers are plants, the currency of the day: flowers, even the medical equipment (heart monitors) are plants. Other highlights were the Dark Market (with the drawing baboons, live vultures, fortune-tellers, personal pepper seeds, dog-sized toads, etc.) and the Forbidden Greeny Jungle (with the flesh-eating plants, the Speculating Speckled Frog: a shiny pink frog with gold speckles and the ability to answer all questions, a human-sized scorpion with a poisoned whip for a tail, talking panthers, a two-headed green tortoise the size of a large car, thieving bush cows, etc.)
One of my best lines from the book: ‘Fear landed on my shoulder like a heavy bloodsucking masquerade’ Such imagery!
- Who were the Windseekers? They were dada-born people born with the ability to fly.
- How did Zahrah escape the giant scorpion and its poisoned whip? The enormous car-sized, two-headed tortoise with eyes as big as dinner plates appeared out of nowhere, smashed the scorpion to death and feasted on its body!
- What are elgorts? Elgorts are described as the ultimate killing machines. With enormous trunks lined with sharp teeth and the ability to fell whole trees while in motion and eat their prey (even humans) in three crunches, they are the fastest and deadliest animals in the Forbidden Greeny Jungle.
- Why did people grow their own personal peppers? To become socially spicy: more attractive and more popular.
- The first man Zahrah met when she went to the Dark Market? A one-eyed man with cornrows, selling live vultures.
- “ … From the information you typed into me, you are a thirteen-year-old girl who seeks to find an unfertilized elgort egg for your friend? … Then you are truly mad” Who/What said this? Zahrah’s talking compass.
CHALLENGE: Zahrah the Windseeker
CREATE (WRITE a Story/Poem OR DRAW)
- What is Nsibidi? Write a short 400-word essay
- Draw a picture of the Dark Market using the details in Chapter 4 of the Book.
- Write a poem on ‘Bullying’.
Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org
Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 10-12 age range. The first correct entry will be announced on this page and will win a copy of this book and a copy of ‘Akata Witch’ by the same author.
Answers must be submitted before 12:00am on Tuesday, November 17th 2015
Next Book of the Week:
THE TIME MACHINE by H.G. Wells