Middle Grade Spotlight: Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun by Tolá Okogwu

Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun

Author: Tolá Okogwu

Publisher: McElderry Books

Release Date: June 14, 2022

Author, journalist, and hair care educator Tolá Okogwu, shares the story of a young girl who learns that her Afro hair has psychokinetic powers, and travels to Nigeria to learn more about her origins in ONYEKA AND THE ACADEMY OF THE SUN. This action-packed and empowering middle grade adventure is Black Panther meets X-Men, and perfect for fans of Amari and the Night Brothers.

Onyeka has a lot of hair–the kind that makes strangers stop in the street and her peers whisper behind her back. At least she has Cheyenne, her best friend, who couldn’t care less what other people think. Still, Onyeka has always felt uncomfortable with her vibrant curls…until the day Cheyenne almost drowns and Onyeka’s hair takes on a life of its own, inexplicably pulling Cheyenne from the water.

At home, Onyeka’s mother tells her the shocking truth: Onyeka’s psycho-kinetic powers make her a Solari, one of a secret group of people with super powers unique to Nigeria. Her mother quickly whisks her off to the Academy of the Sun, a school in Nigeria where Solari are trained. But Onyeka and her new friends at the academy soon have to put their powers to the test as they find themselves embroiled in a momentous battle between truth and lies.

There is already major buzz about this book prior to its June international publication, with the recent announcement that the book will be adapted for Netflix. A first in a series, there are a million reasons to fall for this high-spirited adventure, from the exciting magic and technology it showcases, to Onyeka’s compelling journey to find empowerment through her relationship with her hair. While there are many stories about children with superpowers, there are very few from the viewpoint of a young Black girl.

Tolá Okogwu is a British Nigerian author, journalist, and hair care educator. Born in Nigeria but raised in London, she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism. Having spent several years exploring the world of blogging, haircare, and freelance writing, she finally returned to her first love…fiction. She is the author of Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun, the self-published picture book series Daddy Do My Hair, and Aziza’s Secret Fairy Door under the name Lola Morayo. Tolá lives in Kent, England, with her husband and two daughters. An avid reader and lover of music, she’s also a sucker for melted cheese. Learn more at TolaOkogwu.com.

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