Tu Bks. Feb. 2023. 240p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781620149591.
Gr 6 Up–When African American Winna’s mother gets hospitalized with bronchitis, the 10-year-old and her little sister Tupelo are sent to live with her grandparents and aunt. While there, Tupelo accidentally breaks Winna’s glasses. Her grandfather gives her an old pair of spectacles that used to belong to her great aunt Estelle. These glasses, Winna discovers, are more than what they seem and open her up to a world of magic and ghosts. Thanks to the glasses and a bit of speculation using the words “what if,” she can see the ghosts of Estelle, and Estelle’s mother, Winona. Winna learns that as Winona was escaping from slavery, her baby Key was stolen under mysterious circumstances. Winona’s vow to be reunited with her baby and hold him in her arms has cursed their entire family with breathing problems and unable to rest even in death. Winna’s mother might be the curse’s next victim if Winna can’t figure out how to find Key and reunite him with Winona. Winna’s magical glasses powered by speculation are a unique and interesting concept. Throughout her journey, Winna uses the glasses to her advantage, but also learns to do things for herself and lean on the people around her. How the magical glasses came to be is not fully explained, and neither is the extent of their powers. This lack of magical world-building might be easy to ignore for some readers, while others might find the workings of the magic hard to understand. The novel’s resolution leaves the story feeling unfinished and unsatisfying. A note: Winna experiences racist bullying at school that includes derogatory terms; no explicit slurs are used.
VERDICT Though this African American historical fantasy has a unique concept, its lack of world-building and abundance of unanswered questions makes it a difficult title to recommend.

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