“Aniya, Dream of a Warrior” is the first book in a new fantasy adventure series written by Jacquitta A. McManus and illustrated by Toujour Byrd.
The book takes children on an epic adventure through the Nagoran Village, a land of enchantment, expedition, and exhilaration. As I turned each page, my heartrate increased wondering what would happen next. Are Pep bugs like winged beetles commonly called fireflies or lightning bugs?
Is Anyia an only child? Will the Thor warriors catch her in the bushes?
Would her dad punish her? Would her mother support her? Would she fall in love with Dek?
I had so many questions, I had to just keep reading.
As I read Aniya Warrior Princess, my mind recalled other Disney Princess shows I watched. I thought about Princess warriors such as Merida (from Brave), Mulan, and Pocahontas. But this was different. This was #BlackGirlMagic. I felt deep pride reading a story about a Black Princess Warrior. I really wished these books were around when my 16-year old daughter, Alyssa Simone was growing up. At least my ten-year old, Olivia Lauren gets to enjoy it.
The more I read, the more I saw a similar rhetoric in different cultures and history. How many women have been denied the opportunity to fight and bring honor to their village or country? Historically, we have seen that women and especially Black women were denied opportunities in the work force and military because it was believed that women should be cooking, cleaning, and nurturing the younger generation. We currently view this position as sexism (unequal, unfair and unjust treatment because of one’s biological sex). But those who are conservative, in power, or often don’t oppose it, call it tradition. But think about how much strides America and other countries have made due to the contributions of women. Katherine Johnson and Malala Yousafzai, ring any bells? If not, then you need to read Hidden Figures and She Persisted.
Anyway I digress…
Ultimately, the story is about a young Nagaron princess named Anyia. She is adventurous, persistent, and willful. Her dream is to become a warrior like Amoonda, the only female warrior, so she can bring honor to her family and her village. However, this would mean going against tradition and disobeying her father. The story is simply captivating, proving a powerful message of being persistent and courageous in the pursuit of your dreams. It also demonstrates that on your journey to actualizing your full potential, you must also respect and understand the importance of family and tradition. Anyia serves as delightful role model for young girls. She is brilliant, strong, courageous, and wants to push her boundaries and far exceed what is expected of her in life. The author has a very intriguing, engaging, and creative writing style that is perfect for children of all ages. There is active dialogue to keep you engaged. The vocabulary is age appropriate but still teaches new terms such as glowered, jeopardizing, mindlessly, craftsmanship, sinister, redistribute, labryrinth, and many others. The fonts and illustrations are perfect. The illustrator does an excellent job bringing the text to life. He is very gifted. And we love the interactive activities throughout the book. There is a maze puzzle, a learn to draw the character, which Lauren Simone Pubs absolutely adores because all of our books are written, coauthored and/or illustrated by youth (4 to 25 years old).