A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Educates readers about the slavery trade and its lasting effects. There are many references to West African mythology, mythical creatures, gods, and goddesses. The novel features characters wearing traditional African clothing like dashiki and shokoto and instruments like the djembe drums. There are also a few phrases in Igbo throughout.
Be there for your friends when they need you. Support them and listen to them. You're a part of a legacy. Remember your history and the stories passed down from generations.
Positive Role Models
Characters work together to reach their goal. They give each other space when necessary. They keep going even when they're scared.
Cameron is African American. He and the people of Chidani are dark skinned. Other characters are described as having different shades of brown skin. There are many elements of Igbo culture throughout the book including food, clothing, language and mythology. A character calls out another about victim blaming. Going against gender stereotypes, Cameron has many moments where he's overwhelmed with emotions and cries, and he's never made to feel less than for doing so. The story deals with the African slavery trade and its legacy.
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Violence & Scariness
Fantasy violence throughout. Characters fight with swords and bleed, but any injuries are healed with Azizan (fairy) magic. They battle evil spirits who bleed black blood. Creatures lose arms and other limbs.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms, by Jamar J. Perry, is a fantasy adventure with many references to West African mythology. There's fantasy violence, but injuries are not long-lasting and are healed through magic. Twelve-year-old Cameron often struggles with his emotions. He pushes his friends away when he's upset, sometimes he lashes out and yells, other times he says one thing and means something else. His emotional state is realistic on the one hand, given his being thrust into this save the world situation that he's ill-equipped for. On the other hand, he never seems to learn how to manage his emotions and communicate how he's feeling. This can offer an opportunity for discussion about big emotions and how to handle them.
Is It Any Good?
This inventive fantasy adventure about friendship and legacy inspired by West African mythology. It's perfect for fans of Tristan Strong. Central to the plot of Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms is The Book of Chidani. It's a dynamic plot device that tells the history of Chidani and connects Cameron to his family's legacy. The novel is a celebration of African culture, from the food the characters eat to the clothes they wear. The magical action scenes are epic, though at times violent, but the violence is never gratuitous and any injuries are healed through magic.
The plot gets a little confusing as far as the sequence of some events, but not so confusing that it'll deter readers' enjoyment. Cameron as a character is unlikable at times with his negative outlook and outbursts, but he's a realistically flawed character with difficult emotions to work through on top of not having the tools to deal with them. It's great to see a 12-year-old Black boy feeling his feelings instead of biting them down.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.