Akata Witch

Book review by
Sally Engelfried, Common Sense Media
Akata Witch Book Poster Image
Imaginative story of U.S. albino finding magic in Nigeria.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Nigerian culture will be a new experience for many American readers. However, because so much of it is entwined with of Sunny’s magical education, it may be difficult for readers to discern where that culture ends and the magic begins.

Positive Messages

Sunny lies to her parents in order to receive her juju training, but within magical society the rules and morals are very strict: Education is honored more than wealth, and juju cannot be used to show off or to hurt non-Leopard People. The ultimate goal of the Leopard People is to protect the world from great harm.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sunny is eager to learn and appropriately contrite when she lets her teachers down by breaking the rules. Although two of her friends are arrogant and challenge the restrictions laid upon them, they learn through experience why these rules must exist. The Leopard People in general are nonconformists and take great joy in not fitting in with everyday society.


Teachers beat their students, and there are schoolyard fights. A serial killer is abducting children, and Sunny foresees the end of the world.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Sunny’s friends buy herbal cigarettes, although Sunny disapproves. One of Sunny’s teachers smokes a pipe, and people at the Zuma Festival smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sunny, the heroine of this fantasy set in Nigeria, is teased at school and called an akata, a derogatory term for African Americans. When the class misbehaves, the teacher hits her students with a switch, and Sunny is beat up by classmates. Later, when Sunny begins to learn juju, she and her friends must confront a serial killer who has been murdering children in the neighborhood.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byproudmom_ May 5, 2021

My 13-year-old daughter got depressed after reading this

This is a very stupid book. One of my daughter's African American classmate even committed suicide after seeing this book's title (she jumped out of t... Continue reading
Parent Written byMsMoss April 13, 2016

Great read but NOT suitable for younger children at all!

I bought this for my nine year old having heard it was like "a Nigerian Harry Potter". In fact, in a lot of ways it is — better in parts, arguably. Ho... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byfirepong June 28, 2012


akata is a derogatory word that means african-american, you stupid idiots
Teen, 13 years old Written byAlmay199 May 5, 2021

Not great at all

first of all our English teacher forced us to read it
it's absolutely violent and so boring
i feel so depressed, this is so rude.
don't read this offe... Continue reading

What's the story?

Twelve-year-old Sunny has always been a misfit: She was born in America, but she lives in Nigeria. Her family is black, but she’s an albino. She’s an excellent soccer player, but she can’t go into the sun to play the game. Then she discovers she’s a \"free agent,\" one of the Leopard People with powerful magical abilities. As she undergoes juju training, she begins to enjoy her newfound powers. She can stand up to the bullies at school and turn herself invisible; she can even play soccer in the daytime. But then she and her friends are given an important mission: to find and stop Black Hat Otokoto, a serial killer whose victims are always children. Sunny doesn’t always make the right choices, but she is spunky and likable, and readers will share her enthusiasm as she goes through her magical training.

Is it any good?

Fantasy fans will enjoy familiar themes in a new and original setting. Just like any young magician, Sunny must learn the rules of her magic and pay the price when she breaks them -- such as when she uses her "spirit face" to scare a bullying classmate. Readers might be tempted to compare the Leopard People’s magical village of Leopard Knocks to Diagon Alley and the Zuma Festival to the Quidditch World Cup, but beyond these surface similarities to the Harry Potter series, the world and society of the Leopard People is truly unique. Sunny’s joy at learning that she is gifted in juju is palpable and makes up for the sometimes slow buildup to the culminating action-packed scenes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Leopard People earn chittim, their form of money, when they do well with their magic. How is the Leopard People's philosophy of earning money different from most people’s?

  • Anatov, the children’s juju teacher, tells Sunny that for Leopard People, their most powerful magic lies in qualities others may see as negative. For Sunny, her albinism, which she’s always hated, allows her to become invisible. Can you think of other so-called negative qualities that could turn into positive magic?

  • Sunny is severely reprimanded for using her juju powers to win a fight with a non-magic classmate who makes fun of her. Why do you think the Leopard People consider this such a serious crime?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love magic and fantasy

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