A wonderful middle-grade fantasy debut about Black families, family history, family curses ... and a really marvelous pair of spectacles.
After Winna's little sister breaks her glasses, her grandfather gives her an old-timey pair of spectacles that belonged to her great-aunt Estelle. The specs are silver and perfectly circular, with tiny stars on the bridge and earpieces that curl all the way around her ears.
Best of all, they're magic.
Because when Winna makes a wish beginning with the words "What if"--that is, when she speculates--the spectacles grant it. Winna wishes she could see ghosts ... and soon she meets not only the real Estelle, but Estelle's mother, Winona. Nearly a century before, Winona escaped from slavery and ran north with her baby, Key. But Key was stolen from her under mysterious circumstances, and now Estelle and Winona have a mission for Winna: Find Key.
He's still alive. He doesn't know the whole truth. And unless Winna can solve the mystery and bring him home, a powerful curse called the Burden will smother out their family's lives--and Winna's mom could be its next victim.
This beautifully written historical fantasy by an award-winning science fiction author offers new twists and turns in every chapter and will leave you looking at your own family's roots with new eyes.
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About the Author
* "Shawl imaginatively winds suspense, humor, and loss in this story that shows how the past isn't so far behind us... Readers see the importance of oral storytelling: The book celebrates it as a shining beacon for those of us who still have elders who can tell stories while offering space to mourn traditions and loved ones we've lost." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Starring an inquisitive, perceptive protagonist and a supportive cast of adult characters, this intergenerational story underlines themes of family history and inheritance alongside a meditation on ordinary wonders." -- Publishers Weekly
"Beautiful, poetic prose... Speculation is an empathetic and intriguing fantasy novel about magical powers and human weaknesses." -- ForeWord Reviews
"Delightful, lovely, moving. Nisi Shawl has crafted a timeless classic for present and future generations of young readers." -- David Bowles, award-winning author of They Call Me Güero
"Nisi Shawl demonstrates once again why they are a literary treasure. Rooted in both history and magic, Speculation is a richly layered page turner full of imagination on every page. With all of its twists, this story will make you look at the world through new eyes!" -- Maurice Broaddus, author of Unfadeable and The Usual Suspects