Culture & Lifestyle
Published January 27, 2022

T'Challa Returns to America in 'Black Panther: Spellbound'

Read an excerpt of the highly anticipated sequel to 'Black Panther: The Young Prince'!

I’m T’Challa. The Prince of Wakanda. Son of T’Chaka. And one day, I will wear the mantle.

One day T'Challa will take his rightful place as the King of Wakanda and the Black Panther. But for now, he's just the young prince, and he would like to enjoy summer with his friends just like any other teen. In the highly anticipated sequel to middle grade novel Black Panther: The Young Prince, Coretta Scott King award-winning author Ronald L. Smith grants T'Challa his wish and reunites him with his friends Sheila and Zeke in Black Panther: Spellbound, out next Tuesday, February 1, everywhere books are sold. Pre-order the novel now!

Black Panther: Spellbound cover

In Black Panther: Spellbound, thirteen-year-old T’Challa can’t wait to go back to America to visit his friends Sheila and Zeke, who are staying with Sheila’s grandmother in Beaumont, a small Alabama town, over their summer break. He’s thrilled to be on vacation away from his duties as the Prince of Wakanda for a few weeks, and he’s taking full advantage of his access to the amazing food and the South’s rich history.

But as T’Challa continues to explore the town, he finds that a man who goes by the ordinary name of 'Bob' happens to be everywhere he is—and T’Challa begins to think it’s no coincidence.

When residents of the town begin flocking to Bob’s strange message, and a prominent citizen disappears, the Young Prince has no choice but to intervene. T’Challa and his friends start to do their own sleuthing, and before long, the three teens find themselves caught in a plot involving a rare ancient book and man who’s not as he seems. Swept up in a fight against an unexpected and evil villain, T’Challa, Sheila, and Zeke must band together to save the people of Beaumont... before it’s too late.

Read an excerpt from the highly-anticipated adventure, Black Panther: Spellbound, now!

The view was spectacular. The whole city could be seen from the Vulcan’s perch on the famous Red Mountain. Zeke and Sheila took pictures with their phones while T’Challa continued to admire the view. He had to admit it was pretty cool.

T’Challa turned at the sound of raised voices.

“What the—?” Sheila started.

A strangely dressed man had arrived on the observation deck. 

“Is that . . . ?” Sheila said.

“Bob the Acrobat.” Zeke finished the sentence. 

T’Challa looked at the man closely. That was definitely him—the same man from the state fair. There was something about him that T’Challa found unsettling. When he was younger, Ramonda had given him a children’s book called Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, where a character called the Cheshire Cat boasted a grin that was way too wide. That’s who T’Challa thought of when he looked at the acrobat.

“What’s he doing here?” Sheila whispered. “Some kind of performance?” 

They didn’t wait long to find out. 

Very quickly, and without looking at anyone in particular, the man reached over his left shoulder and pulled a long coil of rope from his backpack. The tourists watched in anticipation, their voices suddenly quiet. T’Challa didn’t see any kind of security on the platform at all.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Bob said, and his voice was strong and somewhat deep, carrying past the observation deck to the blue sky beyond. “Can I have your attention?” 

T’Challa had no doubt the man was from West Africa now. He heard it in the pronunciation of the word attention. 

“Consider yourselves very lucky,” he continued, “for this will be a special day you will always remember. You have the best seats in the house.” 

Cell phones came out, and people started recording. T’Challa looked on curiously. Bob caught his eye. T’Challa could have sworn that the man winked, as if they were in on some kind of private joke. He’s definitely following me, T’Challa thought. How else could we be here at the exact same time?

No, another voice in his head countered. You’re just being paranoid.

The acrobat uncoiled the rope and made a loop, then twirled it above his head like an American cowboy and threw it high in the air, toward the spear that Vulcan held. T’Challa was surprised to see that the rope caught the spear on the very first try. Bob smiled and then gave a short tug, testing that it was fastened. And then, to T’Challa’s and everyone else’s amazement, he began to pull himself up the statue, planting his feet out from his body like a mountain climber.

“He’s gonna go all the way to the top!” Zeke shouted. 

A burst of static from a walkie-talkie blasted in T’Challa’s ear. A burly man in a uniform appeared from the stairway, huffing and puffing. “Hey, you!” he called out. “Come down at once!”

But Bob paid him no mind and continued his ascent. T’Challa wondered why the acrobat was doing this. He was reminded of a giant spider as the man climbed. As he became smaller and smaller, T’Challa shaded his eyes with his hand, trying to block the sun and keep the man in sight. People were murmuring and pointing, excited and fearful at the same time.

“What in the world is that man doing?” one said.

“He’s crazy,” added another. “Someone’s going to get hurt!”

And as they continued to watch, Bob the Acrobat reached the peak of Vulcan’s head. He took a deep breath ... and then ... launched himself into a handstand. 

But what happened next was the grand finale. 

As he stood on his hands, Bob’s legs swayed forward, and he let himself fall. 

A woman screamed. 

“Somebody call nine-one-one!” a man shouted.

“My god!” Sheila cried, reaching for her phone.

People rushed to the railing.

T’Challa was stunned, but as he was about to run for help, he saw, along with everyone else, two wings, like those a paraglider would use, snap out from Bob’s body and lift him up on great gusts of air. 

Zeke pointed to the sky. “Look.”

“Unbelievable,” Sheila whispered as Bob became smaller and smaller. 

T’Challa squinted. Something was floating on the air. At first he thought it was a flock of birds, but then he realized they were sheets of paper drifting down from the sky like giant snowflakes.

Another security guard appeared and started asking questions.

“Bob must’ve dropped those from his backpack,” Sheila suggested.

“Maybe it’s just a big promotion for his show at the state fair,” Zeke added.

“Seems like a long way to go for that,” T’Challa said. “A long, long way.”

Whether by chance or some unknown extrasensory warning, T’Challa turned away from the spectacle to see a young boy, four or five years old, with one leg straddled over the guardrail. T’Challa’s heart jumped in his chest.

“No!” a man cried out as he pointed at the child. The bars between the beams were less than a foot apart, too narrow for someone to slide through, but this boy had climbed up the bars and was about to go over.

A bolt of adrenaline raced through T’Challa’s body. He had to act, and fast. 

T’Challa flew forward like an arrow released from a taut bow. The boy dropped a toy Vulcan statue in his effort to climb over, which fell to the depths below. T’Challa had only seconds—milliseconds. 

He had to be careful. He didn’t want to startle the child, but he had to be quick.

With catlike reflexes, he grabbed the boy around his middle and scooped him up, then pulled him free of the bars to safety.

T’Challa exhaled a relieved breath as he set him down.

“Matthew!” a man shouted.

A young man with sandy-brown hair rushed over and dropped to his knees, sending the two sodas he was carrying crashing to the ground. He hugged his child fiercely. “I wanted to see if I could fly, Daddy!” the boy said, not realizing the danger he had narrowly escaped. “Like the man with wings!”

The boy’s father, crying now, squeezed his child tight, and finally noticed T’Challa standing next to him. “Thank you, friend. Thank you.” His face was a map of alarm and fright. “I only stepped away for a second. I—” He stopped short, at a loss for words.

“You’re welcome, sir,” T’Challa told him.

Zeke and Sheila stood with mouths agape, stunned by T’Challa’s quick thinking and reflexes.

“Black Panther to the rescue,” Zeke whispered.

“Quick thinking,” Sheila said. “That was nuts.”

“Which part?” Zeke asked. “That kid or Bob the Acrobat?”

“Both,” Sheila replied. 

“I had to do something,” T’Challa said. “There was no time to lose.”

They made their way toward the exit. T’Challa was still a little shaken by the child’s close call. He exhaled a heavy breath.

“Look,” Sheila said, stooping to pick up something from the ground.

T’Challa and Zeke looked over her shoulder. It was a flyer printed with the silhouette of a human form with outstretched arms and legs within a circle. T’Challa studied the image. “This looks like the Vitruvian Man.”

“You’re right,” Zeke said. “That’s what Bob must’ve dropped from his backpack.”

T’Challa saw that other people were also picking up the flyers, as if Bob had deliberately left them behind in order to be discovered.

“What does Leonardo da Vinci have to do with Bob?” Sheila asked.

The security guard was now directing people away from the monument. The police had arrived and were asking questions. 

But T’Challa’s thoughts were elsewhere.

Who was Bob the Acrobat, and why did he suddenly seem to be everywhere T’Challa was?

Black Panther: Spellbound hits shelves, everywhere books are sold, on February 1, 2022!

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