‘Amari and the Night Brothers’ picked as Read Across Mattoon book

MATTOON — The ending of “Amari and the Night Brothers” left Mattoon Middle School Reading Committee members anxious for more installments of the title character’s adventures among supernatural creatures in the real world.

“‘Amari and the Night Brothers’ has magic, action, suspense and a big unexpected twist at the end,” exclaimed member Chloe Bennett.

These qualities have led to the approximately 20-member committee selecting author B.B. Alston’s 2021 young adult fantasy novel as the 21st annual Read Across Mattoon book. Community members are invited to pick up grant-funded copies at the school or the Mattoon Public Library, join the student body in reading it, and then pass on their copies to others.

The novel tells the story of a young, Black girl named Amari who goes searching for her missing older brother, Quentin, after a mysterious package arrives that is addressed to her.

“Little did she know the package led to a mysterious world with mythical creatures living amongst us,” said Leah Hampton as she and other committee members gave a presentation to the Mattoon school board on Jan. 10.

'Amari and the Night Brothers'

Mattoon Middle School Reading Committee members, from left, Hannah Catt, Chloe Bennett and Leah Hampton display the committee’s 2023 Read Across Mattoon book selection, “Amari and the Night Brothers” by B.B. Alston.

Amari follows in the footsteps of her brother, who is famous in that world, by enrolling in summer tryouts to become a junior agent with the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Amari continues her search while she contends with classmates who mistrust her newfound abilities and she faces a potential confrontation with an evil magician in a group called the Night Brothers.

Hannah Catt said she and her fellow members selected this novel after discussing various book options during the course of many Friday morning meetings.

“Very strongly, I had to talk to everyone. I was like, ‘I want this book. It might be long, but it’s a good one,'” Hannah said of this 408-page novel. 

Adviser Ingrid Minger, who is the school’s media center specialist, concurred that the 2023 selection is a good read. She added, “There is a second one (‘Amari and the Great Game’) and the second one is just as amazing, and holy cliffhanger! We are all holding out for the third book.”

Minger said the committee has begun talking about making next year’s list of potential books by once again getting suggestions from the student body and looking over the national Rebecca Caudill book list. She estimated that Read Across Mattoon has distributed 20,000 books over the years for sharing with readers near and far.

“We have had them all over the world,” Minger said of Mattoon travelers taking the books on trips and leaving them there. “It’s very nice to hear from people who have traveled all over.”

Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @TheRobStroud

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