by Ba, Juni

Follows the adventures of Mansou, last prince of a dying kingdom, and Awa, his loyal Djeliya, or royal storyteller, as they journey to meet the great wizard who destroyed their world.

Juni Ba is an illustrator and writer hailing from Senegal and France. His current works include the KAYIN AND ABENI mini series and the MONKEY MEAT stories, both published by Kugali. He’s also a cover artist with works for Skybound and IDW. His artistic fuel mostly comes from orange juice. Juni currently resides in Montpellier, France. 

In a post-apocalyptic setting inspired by the folklore of West Africa, Ba relates the epic journey of Mansour, the disgraced prince from a destroyed kingdom, and his companion, the djeli Awa, a keeper of oral histories who shares her knowledge in music. They're on a quest to dethrone the wizard Mbam, who's pillaging their region for ever more power, but this is no straightforward tale; Ba artfully fills in backstory, establishes worldbuilding with entertaining tangents, and eventually subverts the tropes of the quest genre in a satisfying twist. His pages are dense with thrilling artwork, combining West African folk imagery, street art, and hints of manga, and complex page layouts that engagingly convey narrative and high-flying action scenes alike. Occasionally those pages are a touch overcrowded and require careful attention, but that attention is rewarded with a thoughtful story that raises important questions about who gets to wield power, the long shadow of collective trauma, and how we remember and record history, all in a bold, dynamic visual style refreshingly unlike anything else out there. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

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