Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Lionheart Girl by Yaba Badoe


Reviewer:
Catriona Troth

What We Thought of It:

This is my home, yet I have to tell you plain-plain, my corner of the world is an inside-out, upside-down, twist-in-time place where strange things happen.

Sheba has been brought up by her grandmother and aunts – a family of women with magic in their fingers in a village in West African. Founded to protect those escaping from the slave traders, it has remained invisible for centuries and can only be discovered by those in the direst need. They live in a house without men, watched over by the spirit of Sheba’s grandfather, the chief Nana Gyata su, who can be seen at times walking the corridors of the house in the shape of a lion.

Sheba, like the rest of her family, has a gift. When she touches someone’s hair, to braid it and style it, she can read their memories and sense their innermost thoughts. But the most powerful of them all may be Sheba’s mother, the terrifying Sika, who can summon crows to do her bidding, and whose magic is far darker and more dangerous.

Sheba and her friends must reach deep within themselves to stop Sika destroying their village, and to protect themselves from getting sucked into her darkness.

The story is grounded in West African mythology, but there are also elements here of contemporary reality. Yaba Badoe is a Ghanaian-British documentary film maker. In 2011, she produced the film, The Witches of Gambaga, which tells the story of women in Ghana who have been accused of witchcraft and who have found sanctuary in the town on Gambaga in the north of the country.

The book is beautifully illustrated with delicate, shadowy images of trees, feathers, lions, and also with Adinkra symbols – Ghanaian designs used in fabrics and pottery, that each represent an abstract concept such as truth, strength and independence.

A story of courage and friendship and reaching deep inside yourself to find out who you really are.  

Longlisted for the 2022 Children’s and YA Jhalak Prize.

You’ll Enjoy This If You Loved: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi; The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

Avoid If You Dislike: Dark fantasy

Perfect Accompaniment: Tilapia grilled on an open fire

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic realism

Buy This Book Here

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