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The Call to Shakabaz by Amy Wachspress

The Call to Shakabaz

by Amy Wachspress

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I have to admit I almost put this down at about p. 50. The beginning was clunky, with feeling of 'got to get into the excitement' that was kinda 'forced.' But once the story really got going, I was hooked. And it's got all the good stuff - strong females, each kid brings different skills to the challenges, a Green message, mild spirituality, themes of friendship & non-violent courage & persistence & family, even some humor (which was well-written and not 'forced' at all). I have no idea why it's not better known - just didn't catch the eye of a bigger publisher I guess. Too bad. I def. rec. it to boys and girls, and classrooms, grades 4-7 especially. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Reviewed by Carrie Spellman for TeensReadToo.com

Doshmisi, Denzel, Maia, and Sonjay always thought Aunt Alice's Manzanita Ranch was a great place to visit, but they never thought they would have to live there. But when their mother died unexpectedly, that's where they moved to. It hasn't been very long since then, and the kids are bored stiff. It's a good thing they have the family Midsummer party to look forward to. Although without their mom, or even the cousins who are inexplicably absent, even that might not be much fun.

What starts out as a rather dull, depressing day gets a lot more interesting with a strange lesson in family history. It turns out that the two brothers and two sisters are "The Four." Descendants of a line of four brothers and sisters who can pass through their own dimension and into Faracadar. With their mother gone, the time of their mother and aunt and uncles have passed. It is up to the new Four now.

But what is "it"? Trust me, they want to know as much as you do. Unfortunately, one of the rules is that they don't get to know much the first time around. All they know is that they have to get the Staff of Shakabaz away from a guy named Sissrath. Who that is, how they do it, why they have to, and even what Faracadar is, they'll have to figure out for themselves. They'll have to work together, learning what each of their strengths are and how to use them, and maybe they'll be able to pull it all off.

THE CALL TO SHAKABAZ is richly imagined and incredibly detailed, both land and story. At first it's a bit like a modern version of THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE. But by the end of the tale you realize it's so much deeper than that. This is a book about finding personal strength, in all different forms, and appreciating the talents of others, and the strength in uniting different people, and so much more! I want to buy a copy for everyone I know, regardless of age, race, or sex. It's part fantasy, part history lesson, part real life -- I can't even describe it! But, it's beautiful, and it's kind of a picture of what I'd like to see our world look like. Although maybe without the greenish sun -- that might be a little weird. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 10, 2009 |
My 5 and 7 year olds LOVE this book.

Listen to our inteview with the author here:

The Call to Shakabaz is an innovative, non-violent fantasy which is set in an African American cultural context.

Mark speaks with author and activist Amy Wachspress about this ambitious book, the importance of exercising our creativity and her seven daily practices that can change the world. ( )
  JOMB | Feb 27, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0978835026, Paperback)

Wachspress sidesteps many of the usual conventions and offers original resolutions to a variety of sticky situations. When the recently orphaned Goodacre children are transported to the land of Faracadar, they must discover and develop their special gifts and talents, which require that they exercise ingenuity, creativity, and compassion. Fourteen-year-old Doshmisi and her younger siblings Denzel, Maia, and Sonjay are given the task of retrieving the powerful Staff of Shakabaz from the evil enchanter Sissrath. They travel through a colorful landscape with their Faracadaran guide and their Aunt Alice's clever, pesky, and often hilarious parrot, Bayard Rustin. The adventurers must contend with many obstacles and foes, including a giant sea serpent spewing green goo, skeeter birds with uncanny eyesight, the smelliest man in the land (named Compost), the deadly mountain geebachings (who cause their victims to laugh themselves to death), as well as Sissrath himself and his minions (who shoot deadly poison darts at their enemies). Assistance is provided to them along the way by the griot, the high chief and his clever daughter, talking whales, ancient trees, drummers, inventors, butterflies, wolves, tigers, and the peculiar sprites who live underground in the hills.

The book offers a refreshingly different perspective on adventuring in make-believe lands and challenges young readers to reconsider the nature of violence and how we resolve conflict. When the last page turns and the dust clears, this book will inspire readers to think and think again.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:07 -0400)

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