The Bravest Warrior in Nefaria by Adi Alsaid

Bobert Bougainvillea is eleven years old and feels virtually invisible. Actually, he might be oscillating between visibility and invisibility, given that there is all kinds of evil scheming taking place in Nefaria. Such is the opening of Adi Alsaid’s first novel for middle grade readers, The Bravest Warrior in Nefaria.

When Bobert is in a visible phase, he invites some classmates to the town square to do homework while he waits for his parents. Here the group discusses Nefaria’s gumball machine which has been cursed by Evil Wizard Matt.  In every corner of the kingdom, both commoners and nobles are known to be dreaming up schemes—“schemes to bring them riches and schemes to bring them power, schemes that they thought would improve the lives of Nefarians for the better” (200).

Because so many schemers are scheming with evil intent, Nefarians are always vigilant.  However, when Stanbert challenges one of the group to put a coin in the gumball machine, Bobert—who is starved for attention and group affiliation—accepts. Supposedly, any user of the gumball machine after dark will get trapped inside. Surprisingly, the curse is true and Bobert is trapped. But no one, except Candelabra, remembers him—one of the curse’s side effects.

As the two-hundredth gullible child who doesn’t heed warnings, Bobert is destined to be a member of Wizard Matt’s child army. Although he is under the wizard’s control, Bobert looks for weaknesses in this “weirdo’s” behavior. Because Bobert believes it is his duty to rescue all of the children and return them to their families, he searches for clues to subvert the curse. However, he doesn’t consider himself to be cut from hero’s cloth. After all, heroes are seen, and Bobert has largely been invisible.

Because she won’t give up on Bobert, Candelabra solicits the help of Stanbert and Jennizabeth, and the trio form a search party.

The story goes on to highlight the tweens’ courage in the face of evil. Along the way, they learn not only that loneliness can break the human spirit but that great warriors are more than instruments for fighting battles.

  • Posted by Donna

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