Amira & Hamza: The War to Save the Worlds

Little, Brown. (Amira & ­Hamza: Bk. 1). Sept. 2021. 368p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316540469.
Gr 3-7–A middle grade fantasy that includes Islamic legends, magic, science, and the power of belief in oneself. While at their mosque, waiting for the super blue blood moon, Amira and her younger brother Hamza both happen to touch a supposedly broken ancient artifact, the Box of the Moon, which sets an equally ancient prophecy in motion. Everyone on Earth suddenly falls asleep, and jinn appear, claiming that Amira and Hamza have been chosen to save the magical world of Qaf, Earth, and life as they know it. Amira loves science, so she has her doubts about fulfilling a mystical prophecy at 12, while Hamza is thrilled to become important, like one of his favorite superheroes. Like any magical journey, this one is full of heart, humor, action, doubt, and the belief that even the most unexpected individuals can save the world. Amira’s questions will resonate with skeptical readers, whereas Hamza urges her to let go and believe anyway. Amira and Hamza’s adventure is emotionally believable, even as the siblings ride magical creatures to their next destination. Although some of the action might be intimidating for younger readers, this would still make for a great read-aloud.
VERDICT A fast-paced adventure with heart and a superb fairy-tale adaptation of Islamic legends. Sure to be a hit with fans of Yoon Ha Lee’s Dragon Pearl and Sayantani DasGupta’s The Serpent’s Secret.

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