Tọlá Okogwu has a new book coming out this summer. Titled Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun, the book is the first in a middle grade adventure duology. It will be published on June 14, 2022 by Margaret McElderry Books, a boutique imprint of Simon & Schuster’s children’s division that focuses on fiction and nonfiction for the teen, middle grade, picture book, and poetry markets. In one impressive book deal, Simon & Schuster acquired not only the two books in the Onyeka series, but also two standalone picture books. This is amazing news for British-Nigerian author Okogwu!
Onyeka and The Academy of the Sun is an adventure and sci-fi tale featuring a 12-year-old British-Nigerian girl, Onyeka, who discovers that she has psychokinetic superpowers through her hair. The story takes young readers from London to a futuristic Nigeria where Onyeka begins training to master her new powers. Onyeka and The Academy of the Sun will be the first in a duology, but the second book’s title is yet to be released.
Okogwu is an author, journalist and hair care educator. She has written for several publications, including Refinery29, Huffington Post and Black Ballad. Some of her other books include the Daddy Do My Hair series and, under the pen name Lola Morayo, the Aziza’s Secret Fairy Door series.
In a comment to The Bookseller Tọlá expressed excitement about sharing a story that celebrates the beauty of the black body:
I have always wanted superpowers, so when the idea of a girl with mutant powers and a kick-ass head of hair came to me, I knew her story needed to be told. Not enough children know how magical and beautiful their Afro-textured hair is and through Onyeka, I wanted to show them that magic, as well as an epic adventure full of gadgets, action and danger. I’m incredibly grateful to be working with the team at S&S. From the very beginning they have shown so much love and enthusiasm for a world that has existed only in my mind for far too long.
Read the publisher’s description and see pre-order options below:
“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…”
Pre-Order Onyeka and The Academy of the Sun: Amazon