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Zahrah the Windseeker

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,627 Ratings  ·  283 Reviews
In the northern Ooni Kingdom, fear of the unknown runs deep, and children born dada are rumored to have special powers. Thirteen-year-old Zahrah Tsami feels like a normal girl -- she grows her own flora computer, has mirrors sewn onto her clothes, and stays clear of the Forbidden Greeny Jungle. But unlike other kids in the village of Kirki, Zahrah was born with the telling ...more
Hardcover, 308 pages
Published September 26th 2005 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Spoke No! It's a fantasy book, and a very good one.

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Maggie Desmond-O'Brien
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: Nnedi Okorafor is one of my favorite science fiction authors of all time. So you may forgive me if this review is a little biased. But truly, even if I hadn't already been in love with Okorafor's work, this book would have been just as much of a delight, and I can't recommend it more highly for those new to Okorafor.

The novel's charm resides, as usual for Okorafor, in its plucky heroine: young, vain, clever, anxious, and ultimately courageous Zahrah. Middle grade and YA novels a
Stef Rozitis
A beautiful, innocent, book with inventive and mostly seamless world-building. At times the fourth wall does slip (do I detect the author having a giggle?) for example:

'"Let me guess," the frog interrupted,"Like every other human explored I've even met, you want to know the meaning of life."
"I didn't-"
"The answer's forty-four. The machine was off by two" the frog snapped, "Believe me, it makes a world of difference..."'

If that's not a hitchhikers reference then what is it? Nevertheless the aut
Shira Glassman
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who like plants and heroic girls in SFF
Shelves: sff-speculative, teen
At its core, Zahrah the Windseeker is both a story about a girl rescuing a boy, and a girl growing into her own strength, both of which are themes I enjoy. Zahrah's story is pretty linear, straightforward, and in some ways predictable, so what really makes this book stand out is the TOTALLY GLITTERPANTS WORLDBUILDING. If there's such a thing as phytopunk, this book is it -- Zahrah's people have all the latest in today's technology, only it's all botanical. They plant computer seeds that grow com ...more
Your average juvenile fiction quest fantasy, except that the protagonist is female (somewhat rare), she's brown-skinned (much rarer), and her world is based on an African rather than European or Asian model (very rare indeed). Interesting worldbuilding, though the marriage of fantasy and technology didn't always ring true for me. Unfortunately, my favorite parts of the book were those that took place before the quest, so I was a little disappointed with the direction that the plot took. That's m ...more
Jul 26, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ya
This was a really sweet book about a young girl born with “dada-locks” (dreadlocks with vines growing through them). Her hair marks her as different and just a little fey, which makes her an outsider. She and her best friend decide to explore The Forbidden Greeny Jungle, and have strange and dangerous encounters. Zahrah lives in a tree city, where people grow computers out of plant seeds and grow buildings instead of building them. Her world is far more interesting than the book itself, which is ...more
Snarktastic Sonja
Jul 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Never as I was reading this did I feel like it was a children's book. Yes. The mc was a child. But, the story was so interesting and the world so creative that it never occurred to me that I was reading a children's book.

I feared that when she started off on her journey, that it would become boring and just be descriptive. But Zahrah's inner dialog and experiences were absolutely fascinating.

I really enjoyed this book and I recommend it to all ages.
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu is a wonderfully written fairytale. This story is for anyone who would like to escape reality and jump back into their childhood made up of dreams and fantasies.

Zahrah is a thirteen year old girl with a rare gift which no one is entirely sure what she will be able to do. Born with vines growing in her hair, she has bee taunted beyond tears most of her life. Very shy, withdrawn with low self confidence and a deadly fear of heights she is about to fin
May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a YA novel which, in some respects, follows a very familiar storyline. Zahrah is different from the other kids. She’s picked on by her peers at school. She’s shy, but destined for greatness. She has a popular friend named Dari who encourages her to be more daring and explore with him. When something happens to Dari, this provides Zahrah with the push she needs to overcome her timidness and set out on her own to try to save him…

Sound like something you’ve read before? Now try this.

Ana Rînceanu
The writing sucked me into the story, but it was the world-building which kept me there. The world felt familiar and strange all at once, but once Zahrah started exploring the jungle, the sense of danger and thrill of discovery made me fly through the book.
Every time I placed this book down, my mind was flooded with the vivid imagery of the Ooni Kingdom and the surrounding jungle. This was almost surprising since as I was reading the writing often felt simple and straightforward. I enjoyed following Zahrah as she learned more about herself and her abilities as a dada girl. I especially enjoyed many of the quirky jungle creatures, my favorite being the Speculating Speckled Frog! 2018 Reading Women Challenge: A fantasy novel written by a woman of co ...more
Apr 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Zahrah lives in the northern Ooni Kingdom, where fear of the unknown runs deep. She is born dada, with vines growing through her hair and believed to have special powers. Besides their fear of dada, the people of the Ooni Kingdom also gravely fear the Forbidden Greeny Jungle, which begins on the outskirts of their small village. But when Zahrah notices changes going on within her and is then faced with having to save Dari's life, she's ready to confront all her fears head on, and challenge every ...more
Oct 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is such a fun, lighthearted read!

My only other experience with Ms. Okorafor is with her issue-laden Who Fears Death which deals with such heavy topics as FGM.

This one, though, is at the lower end of the YA scale and the closest thing to an "issue" it deals with is Zahrah being teased over her dada hair (a sort of supernatural but natural dreadlocks) which, I assume, would sound really familiar to any girl who wears her hair naturally curly while those around her either have naturally or c
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh, this one is a joy. It's written with so much compassion and affection for everyone, from the war snake that puts her best friend in a coma, to the bossy pink frog, to the judgey neighbours. There's totally room for a sequel, and we just got a sequel to Akata Witch, so MAYBE? SEQUEL PLEASE? WHAT ELSE IS IN THE GREAT GREENY JUNGLE?

Also, this world building is ALSO a joy, as is usual for a Nnedi Okorafor book. Plant computers! Rhythm beetles! Carnigourds! Style Mirrors! Intelligent gorillas!
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is exactly the book I needed since finishing the Binti trilogy. Wonderful storytelling and such a creative world.
Bridget Mckinney
May 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
Zahrah the Windseeker is another book I'm adding to the pile of things that I can't wait for my daughter to read. It's definitely the most imaginative and interesting fantasy novel that I've read in a long time.

Zahrah is a girl born with "dadalocks," basically thick dreadlocks with vines growing in them, but at 13 she tries very hard to be otherwise normal. Her best friend, Dari, however, wants to explore the Forbidden Greeny Jungle that lies outside the borders of their town. When Dari is injur
Aug 05, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
>Zahrah the Windseeker is a sweet little fantasy adventure about a young girl born with dada hair that marks her as unique among her people. She quickly discovers that she has hidden powers she's afraid of using, but is pushed to exercise them - and to venture into the infamous Green Jungle - when her best friend Dari is threatened. It's a very standard story made unique but some great world building. The story is set in the Ooni Kingdom, where technology is plant-based and fairly advanced (t ...more
Zahrah the windseeker takes a basic formula - a monomyth crossed with a quest for a MacGuffin - and paints all over it.

So while the story is basic, the world is not - it is an explosion of wonders, ranging from the plant-based technology (skyscrapers are living plants which are grown) to the Greeny Jungle life (the pink speckled frog!). The world itself has an internal logic, helping readers suspend their belief. Reading this story is like falling into Alice's Wonderland, except it's ten times c
Dorothy (D. J.) Emry
Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. I first encountered her writing in a Scifi anthology that I reviewed for StaticMulitmedia. Her short story "Spider, the Artist" in Seeds of Change stands out through the juxtaposition of African mythology and the near future setting. In Zarah the Windseeker, Okorafor-Mbachu brings all that to YA fiction.

She has created an enchanting world in this book - the forbidden Greeny Jungle and the town of Kirki - one that unfolds as natur
A sweet and entertaining middle grade fantasy rooted in African culture and featuring an imperfect but very lovable dark-skinned heroine. Although the fantasy world in Zahrah the Windseeker is very imaginative and VERY green (buildings and technology are literally grown, not built), I wished there were more explanations for the way things were.
Elizabeth Hunter
Sep 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-classic, aoc, ya
This is a fun YA coming-of-age story set in a beautifully realized world of Africa-based culture and characters. Zahrah's adventures in the Forbidden Greeny Jungle and the creatures she meets there are fantastically imagined. I wish that the author had spent more time exploring Zahrah's dada-nature, but perhaps that's for another book.
Standard middle-grade quest fantasy with delightfully non-standard worldbuilding. If I had an 8 to 12-year-old to buy presents for, this would rank high on the list.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it liked it

Imaginative world with unique fantasy setting based on African cultures. This was shelved as YA in my library but this is unquestionably a children's book. I typically don't read children's, so I rated it lower because I didn't enjoy it as much as I was hoping to. Still, a fun book with a likeable heroine and definitely one I would recommend for children (or those who love children's lit). I still want to read more Nnedi Okorafor, after getting a taste of her worldbuilding.
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fa

This book was highly recommended, by two amazing ladies who I’m lucky enough to call friends. They did say, though, that it was a bit different from what I’m used to reading, and that I would have to cut it some slack at the beginning.

Synopsis: Zahrah, a dada girl (born with vines entangled in her hair) discovers she has the ability to fly. Her best friend is bitten by an exotic snake, and she embarks in a magical and perilous journey to find a cure for him
Meghan Fidler
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had just finishing a series of short essays called "By Its Cover" in VQR magazine(Spring 2013) focusing on cover art when two of Okorfor-Mbachu's book appeared within my vicinity. The VQR article, written by five different book designers, develops book covers as a medium for stunning works of art. A good cover has an image which draws browsers to the manuscript while playing with the subject matter of the text. The article opened my eyes, and I have begun admiring and dwelling on the covers o ...more
Zahrah is a 13-year-old girl who has always been a bit off. She was born with dada-locks, vines entwined in one's hair that indicates a wisewoman and other magical powers (or a rebel that brings nothing but trouble). She faces typical teenage fears--her period, girls teasing her, not fitting in, being shy. Except... she can fly. (Though she's afraid to.) One day, she and her friend Dari decide to venture into the SUPER DANGEROUS FOREST, Dari gets bitten by a poisonous snake, and many people have ...more
Francesca Forrest
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love the world Zahrah lives in; if I'd been a kid when I read this, it would have been one of the worlds I wished I could go to--like Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Green-sky books, or Lawrence Yep's Sweetwater, or Narnia. It's a world in which everything is hyper-alive and growing, even the technology (lightbulbs and CPUs are cultivated like garden vegetables), and flower petals are used for currency, a futuristic, alternate-reality, West-Africa sort of world, with baobab and iroko trees, mangos and ...more
Heather Ohana
This book was different in a lot of ways from the books I normally read. None of those differences were bad points in the book. I loved that the world in which this story takes place is completely populated with people of color. I loved the Greeny Jungle and all it's wildness. I loved the sentient animals and their different societies. I loved the idea of technology being truly organic and cultivated instead of invented. It really released ownership of the things they used in this culture and ad ...more
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scribd, 2016
Mildly spoilery discussion below:

What a lovely little book this is! Zahrah, born with dada hair (special hair with vines growing among it), has to save her friend Dari after he is bitten by a poisonous snake. To do this, she has to go into the Forbidden Greeny Jungle and find an unfertilized egg from an elgort. The elgort is the most deadly and terrifying beast in the jungle. It seems an impossible quest....

The story has a bit of an Alice-in-Wonderland feel, but with a very different sensibility
Zahrah Tsami, a girl of the Ooni Kingdom, is unusual: she was born dada, with long green vines growing in her hair, the outward sign of mysterious powers nobody seems able or willing to explain to her. She wants to be normal, but her hair makes her different and feared, except by her best friend, Dari. Eventually, Zahrah's powers begin to materialize, and Dari encourages her to test them out. When he gets into terrible trouble as a result, only Zahrah can save him, by entering the most dangerous ...more
Claudie Arseneault
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: solarpunk, ya, sf, fantasy
I l-o-v-e-d this read.

At first I wasn't sure how to deal with Zahrah's very young voice but she's a 13-year-old girl, and most of this stems from how I read little YA, especially that young. It doesn't take long to grow on you, and in fact breathes a completely unique life into the story. Which is great, because the plot is fairly straightforward. It's Zahrah's subtle but definite growth that is truly fascinating, along with the universe she lives in.

ZAHRAH THE WINDSEEKER was recommended severa
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Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian American author of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults and a professor at the University at Buffalo, New York. Her works include Who Fears Death, the Binti novella trilogy, the Book of Phoenix, the Akata books and Lagoon. She is the winner of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards and her debut novel Zahrah the Windse ...more
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“Though I knew I shouldn’t have cared, the words still hurt like pinches, and pinches can be very painful when done in the same place many times in a row.” 40 likes
“It's ok to care about what other people think, but you should give a little more weight to what you, yourself, think...The habit of thinking is the habit of gaining strength. You're stronger than you believe.” 33 likes
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