Amari Peters has never stopped believing her missing brother, Quinton, is alive. Not even when the police told her otherwise, or when she got in trouble for standing up to bullies who said he was gone for good.
So when she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet, containing a nomination for a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she's certain the secretive organization holds the key to locating Quinton--if only she can wrap her head around the idea of magicians, fairies, aliens, and other supernatural creatures all being real.
Now she must compete for a spot against kids who've known about magic their whole lives. No matter how hard she tries, Amari can't seem to escape their intense doubt and scrutiny--especially once her supernaturally enhanced talent is deemed "illegal." With an evil magician threatening the supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she's an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn't stick it out and pass the tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.
Gr 3-7--Amari Peters is a young Black girl who believes her brother Quinton is alive, even if no one else does. Everything is going wrong and she just got expelled from school, but something exciting is about to happen. Amari, as recommended by her brother, joins a summer camp at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. She starts to learn a special skill all her own, and discovers magical creatures exist (fairies, aliens, and magicians, to name a few) that the Bureau must protect from average people. Readers follow Amari as she navigates a new magical world, hones her skills, and searches for her brother who was attempting to track down the Night Brothers--a mysterious band of magical criminals. This series debut is sure to be a hit with late elementary students and middle graders who are fans of "Harry Potter," "Percy Jackson," and the Men in Black movies. There are a lot of diverse characters who will be relatable to all kids. Amari is tough, smart, kind, and very likeable. The plot doesn't shy away from depictions of racism and discrimination, which may provide necessary, thoughtful discussion topics for classrooms and families. VERDICT This story is action-packed with no fluff; a magical world readers will want to visit, blended with contemporary themes. An excellent middle grade fantasy that will attract an immediate fan base and leave kids eager for more.--Maeve Dodds, Charlotte Mecklenburg Lib., NCCopyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Following the mysterious disappearance of her beloved big brother, Quinton, 13-year-old Amari Peters is offered a spot in a summer camp run by the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, a secret agency that forms the "link between the known world and what is hidden." Learning that Quinton was one of the Bureau's top agents, Amari vows to follow in his footsteps in order to discover his fate. But Amari's initiation reveals that she's a natural-born magician, which the Bureau considers rare and dangerous. Given this status, Amari must dispel the prejudices against magicians while passing a series of extremely competitive trials to join the exclusive Department of Supernatural Investigations. But with a terrifying foe lurking in the shadows, Amari's career may be cut short. In this thrilling debut, Alston thrusts his intrepid heroine into a setting packed with magic, mythical creatures, and danger. Amari, a Black girl with limited means, confronts privilege and prejudice even while delving into a world of wonder, humor, and adventure, making this a sure-to-please winner. Ages 8-12. Agent: Gemma Cooper, the Bent Agency. (Jan.)Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
I read this story along with a group of 5th grade students and I ended up reading ahead! I loved Amari's courage and the friendships she builds all while dealing with remarkably unusual situations. The book is filled with interesting world building and some fun twists and turns that left me dying to read the next book in the series.