I feel like Tracy Chapman could read Wildseed Magic by Marti Dumas and find a song or five to write about. This is an absolutely lovely novel aimed at tweens ages 10-14. It is literally about Black Girl Magic. For a novel that could very easily be compared in many ways with Harry Potter, I would recommend this one any day of the week over that series. It has a multitude of themes and all of them are handled with a deft touch.
It centers on Hasani, a young black teen obsessed with YouTube, make-up tutorials, and becoming an influencer herself. She’s also really hoping her parents get back together, even if her dad has been MIA of late. Unbeknownst to Hasani – or even her parents – she is a Wildseed Witch, a witch whose powers show up out of nowhere instead of one who grows up in a family with a history of magic. When Hasani’s powers reveal themselves, they do so in a rather spectacular way. What results is an invitation to attend Les Belles Demoiselles, a very select academy for young witches.
So, that’s the set up. I don’t want to go into further detail about the plot, but I would like to mention that this book is written about a specific place and culture. It is very detailed and I LOVE that it is real instead of made up like Hogwarts. Dumas is herself a native New Orleanian and has a real flair for making South Louisiana come alive, both in describing locations and the people who live there. She unflinchingly deals with the dark parts of its history while weaving it in to this tale of magic.
Hasani goes on a real journey of self-discovery and I urge you to send your tweens on that voyage with her. Go on it with them. I suspect that they will relate very strongly to her even as they learn about another culture. Just a really lovely novel that shows how the same we all are even in our differences.
(I should probably advise you that I’ve known Marti since we were Hasani’s age, but that doesn’t make anything I’ve said less true.)