Black Panther Spellbound by Ronald L Smith: excerpt from the book YA

Young T'Challa is in his Black Panther costume with friends in fighting stances on either side of him in a crop of the illustrated book cover Black Panther: Spellbound.

io9 has an exclusive snippet of Black Panther: Bewitched.
Picture: Disney books

Do you have a child who I loved Marvel Black Panther movie and wants to know more about the character, but maybe not ready dive into comics? Disney books has just the thing. Author Ronald L. Smith is about to be released Black Panther: Bewitched, a young adult novel that follows a young T’Challa on a trip to America where he must save his friends and a rural town from a bad politician. It’s coming out this fall and io9 has an exclusive preview.

Winner of the Coretta Scott King / John Steptoe New Talent Author Award 2016, Smith wrote Bewitched as a follow-up to its previous one Black Panther delivered, The young prince, but you don’t have to read one to read the other. “These are all stand-alone novels, each with their own distinct stories,” the author told io9 via email. “Of course, I hope people read the first book, The young prince. What I have tried to do and hopefully accomplish is mention a few of the more important story points that shaped T’Challa So far, readers will therefore know where T’Challa’s state of mind is. There is also a third book and the hope is that people will see T’Challa’s growth as the series progresses, preparing him to eventually take the throne!

Be like Bewitched follows a young T’Challa, long before taking the Wakanda throne or Black Panther mantleSmith had to make sure the character was true to the comic but also unique to that story. “I’m writing for a young audience and I want to tap into the same hopes, fears and dreams for T’Challa that my readers would have,” he said. “Even if he is privileged, internally he is still a child and learning to know the world and to navigate it. I think these elements are things readers will have in common with the young Prince. The traits we see in King T’Challa are evident in his young self: bravery, self-doubt, pride. He becomes the character we all know and love. Here is the cover for Bewitched, followed by the exclusive io9 snippet.

Image of article titled Marvel's new Black Panther YA book sees young T'Challa arrive in America

Picture: Disney books


T’Challa was lying down. The glow of the lava lamp produced a calming effect – a myriad of slowly swirling colors of red, blue and green. He thought of Bob the Acrobat and the man in the green suit. The last time he came to America he found out he was being followed. This time it was Nick Fury, sent by his father to watch him.

Was he being followed again?

T’Challa turned and punched his pillow, creating a soft place to rest his head. Sheila is right. I’m just paranoid. He turned off the lamp and fell asleep to the sound of Zeke’s light snoring.

***

The next day dawned bright and sunny, like every other since T’Challa arrived. The jet lag was finally fading, and he stretched and yawned in his bed. “It was about time,” he said aloud.

After a quick breakfast, the group embarked on a short guided tour of Beaumont and its surroundings. It was a quaint little town with a rich history. There was a former train depot that had been turned into a museum, a few shops where artists sold their paintings and sculptures, and several small businesses that sold everything from hand-woven baskets to African-inspired clothing. T’Challa was happy to see a connection to his homeland in this small town, thousands of miles from the world he knew. He bought a small wooden sculpture of a panther to give to Shuri.

T’Challa thought back to leaving Wakanda and how jealous Shuri was about being allowed to visit America. “Your hour will come,” their father had told him. “Maybe one day you and your brother can go together.”

Shuri grudgingly smiled and wished T’Challa a safe journey. She was like that, T’Challa knew: kind, smart and determined. Most often, she could be found in science labs in Wakanda, soaking up information like a sponge. She was the queen of the place, being the princess, and her quest for knowledge was insatiable. T’Challa knew his future would be bright.

As they continued to explore Beaumont, T’Challa saw, as he did in Chicago, a few areas that were run down and in need of updating. Boarded up buildings and abandoned storefronts dot the streets. He found it strange that America had so much wealth, yet some of its citizens could not escape poverty. He promised himself to help someday, if he could.

He thought once again of the wealth and prosperity of Wakanda. What can we do to make our neighboring countries better? When I take the throne, my reign will be one of open borders, sharing the wealth and technology of Wakanda.

Corn, another voice in his head intervened, How will you do this? Wakanda’s power lies in its secret. Would you give it away for a humanitarian cause?

“There is not the same treatment everywhere as the beautiful historic part,” said Sheila.

T’Challa snapped out of his thoughts.

“A lot of businesses have closed,” Sheila continued. “Gramma said mining was the city’s main industry, but the last mine closed decades ago. This is where my grandfather worked before he died.

T’Challa thought of the Great Mound of Wakanda, where vibranium was mined deep beneath the slopes of Mount Bashenga. When he was a child, his father would tie up young T’Challa in the Royal Talon Fighter, the King’s personal plane, and take him to see how it was done. Hovering drones hovered around the mound, their lasers pinpointing locations where rich veins of the supernatural metal could be found. Underground mine carts powered by maglev technology have rushed into the depths to return with a huge, shimmering bounty.

T’Challa knew Sheila’s grandfather would have been amazed by the technology. “Too late now,” he whispered.

“What is that?” Sheila questioned.

“Nothing,” T’Challa said.

As they made their way to the bus stop, T’Challa saw a group of three or four people walking towards them. They occupied the whole sidewalk and stuck leaflets to telephone poles and lampposts.

“There you go,” said a man as they passed. “Big rally coming.” He handed a flyer to T’Challa and continued to walk.

T’Challa picked it up as the group marched down the street.

” What is he saying ? Sheila asked. They huddled beside him. It was a flyer printed on red paper, one they had seen before.

“Again the Vitruvian Man,” Zeke said.

But on this one there was a message:

rally for justice

June 9

8 p.m. on the city green

meet the good doctor, bob

“I guess the Vulcan Park flyer was just a tease, as they say in the ad,” Sheila said.

“Who is the good doctor?” Zeke asked. “What kind of name is that?”

“I don’t know,” Sheila said. “But this rally is tomorrow.”

T’Challa was really intrigued now. What was this Bob doing? He had looked directly at T’Challa twice, and it was more than a coincidence.

“We should check,” Zeke suggested.

“Alright,” Sheila said. “But I really don’t think there’s anything weird going on.”

T’Challa nodded, but he wasn’t quite sure Sheila was right.

***

T’Challa sat down over a bowl of hot southern chili. As hot as it was in the south, people still ate hot food even on the hottest days. Food was food, Miss Rose had said, and it was eaten in the South, regardless of the weather.

“So, what have you got the kids planning for the evening?” Miss Rose asked, putting down a plate of cornbread.

Sheila slipped her spoon into her bowl. She also had chili, but without the meat. “There is a sort of rally in Town Green. We thought we would check it out.

“Oh really?” said Miss Rose. “What kind of rally?

Zeke placed a dollop of sour cream on his chili. “It’s a kind of social justice. I think.”

Miss Rose smiles. “Always fighting for change. We did that at the time as well. Sometimes it seems like we are fighting the same battles over and over again.

A reflected gleam shone in his eye. “When your mother was just a baby, I used to take her to the protests. We thought we could change the world.

“You changed the world, Grandma,” Sheila told him.

“What you did back then was amazing! Mom told me that you and Grandpa go to stores and restaurants and ask to be served. Now it’s brave.

– Thank you, my child, said Miss Rose. She tilted her head. “And to think that we did everything without the Internet. ”

Zeke looked up from his bowl. “I still don’t understand how it worked. How did you talk to yourself if you couldn’t text? “

Miss Rose closed her eyes and opened them again. T’Challa had seen Sheila do the same thing several times over the past few days. – Zeke, said Miss Rose. “There were these things we called telephones.”

“Oh, that’s right,” Zeke said, feigning surprise. “You actually had to memorize the phone numbers. He returned to his food. “Weird.”

“Do you want to come, grandmother? Sheila asked. “At the rally?

“You children, go on and fight the power yourselves,” replied Miss Rose. “I’ve already had my time.”

“We will, Grandma,” Sheila said with a smile. “We will do it.”


Smith knows that, especially after the blockbuster Marvel Studios movies, writing Black Panther is a privilege and he hopes Bewitched lives up to these high expectations. “I know people all over the world love the character and I want to do him justice,” he said. “Wakanda and The Black Panther are so well known in the lore, I feel like I have to do it right, the best I can. I try to take a little inspiration from the movie and the comics, and find interesting angles / pathways to explore that haven’t been used much yet, that’s what I try to keep in mind.

Bewitched released on February 1, 2022. You can pre-order it on The Disney Book Site.

Update 9/21/21, 8 p.m. EST: Bewitched gave a new release date, so we’ve updated the information above.


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