Okorafor-Mbachu, Nnedi. Zahrah the windseeker.

Author:Hinton, KaaVonia
Position:Young Adult Review - Book Review

OKORAFOR-MBACHU, Nnedi. Zahrah the windseeker. Houghton Mifflin. 320p. c2005. 0-618-34090-4. $16.00. JSA

Far away, in the world of Ginen, 14-year-old Zahrah Tsami lives with her parents in the Ooni Kingdom. Born dada, she has dadalocks, clumps of hair with vines attached. Legend and myth surround dada people. Do they have strange powers? Are they rebellious? Are they wise? Adolescence in Ooni, where citizens have access to hydrogen and flora-powered cars, videophones, and netevisions and where Earth is a mere myth, seems somewhat familiar. Like Earthlings, Zahrah finds adolescence awkward: classmates ridicule her and she is startled when she menstruates for the first time. But then she begins to levitate. It is a while before she confides in anyone, and when she does, she is told by a dada woman to simply practice. Zahrah and her friend Dari decide that the Forbidden Greeny Jungle is the best place to practice because few people are brave enough to tarry there.

After only a few visits to the jungle, a war snake bites Dari and his doctor informs the family that he will never regain consciousness unless the cure is obtained. Feeling responsible, Zahrah sets out on a perilous journey through the jungle armed with a largely inaccurate digi-book titled The Forbidden Greeny Jungle Field Guide, and a talking compass. While in the jungle for three weeks, Zahrah's safety is threatened as panthers discuss the possibility of eating her, spiders the size of small children taste her with their feet, and Greeny Gorillas offer her refuge. With a little help from a pink frog, she manages to secure the antidote--the yolk of a deadly...

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