2009 Spirit of Youth Award from Artists for a Better World (recognizing an artist who inspires young people to make the world a better place) presented to Amy Wachspress for authoring The Call to Shakabaz

Next Generation Indie Book Award for Best Audio Book of 2009
Mom’s Choice Award Silver Recipient 2009 Children’s and Young Adult Fiction
Mom’s Choice Award Silver Recipient 2009 Children’s and Young Adult Audio Book
Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) 2008 Award for Best Juvenile Fiction
Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) 2008 Finalist for Best Interior Design
Finalist U.S.A. Book News National Best Books 2007
Finalist Children’s Fiction Category Indie Excellence Book Award 2007
iParenting Media Award 2007


Review by Teens Read Too

Doshmisi, Denzel, Maia, and Sonjay always thought Aunt Alice’s Manzanita Ranch was a great place to visit, but they never thought they would have to live there. But when their mother died unexpectedly, that’s where they moved to. It hasn’t been very long since then, and the kids are bored stiff. It’s a good thing they have the family Midsummer party to look forward to. Although without their mom, or even the cousins who are inexplicably absent, even that might not be much fun.

What starts out as a rather dull, depressing day gets a lot more interesting with a strange lesson in family history. It turns out that the two brothers and two sisters are “The Four.” Descendants of a line of four brothers and sisters who can pass through their own dimension and into Faracadar. With their mother gone, the time of their mother and aunt and uncles have passed. It is up to the new Four now.

But what is “it”? Trust me, they want to know as much as you do. Unfortunately, one of the rules is that they don’t get to know much the first time around. All they know is that they have to get the Staff of Shakabaz away from a guy named Sissrath. Who that is, how they do it, why they have to, and even what Faracadar is, they’ll have to figure out for themselves. They’ll have to work together, learning what each of their strengths are and how to use them, and maybe they’ll be able to pull it all off.

THE CALL TO SHAKABAZ is richly imagined and incredibly detailed, both land and story. At first it’s a bit like a modern version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia). But by the end of the tale you realize it’s so much deeper than that. This is a book about finding personal strength, in all different forms, and appreciating the talents of others, and the strength in uniting different people, and so much more! I want to buy a copy for everyone I know, regardless of age, race, or sex. It’s part fantasy, part history lesson, part real life — I can’t even describe it! But, it’s beautiful, and it’s kind of a picture of what I’d like to see our world look like. Although maybe without the greenish sun — that might be a little weird.

Reviewed by: Carrie Spellman at Teens Read Too

Bob Spear’s “5 Heart” Review at Heartland Review

The following posting was made by Book Reviewer Bob Spear at Heartland Reviews on November 14, 2006. Bob has included Shakabaz in his Reluctant Reader Catalog. He rated the book “5 Hearts,” which is his highest rating.


The Call to Shakabaz


This midgrade fantasy is perfect for a young reluctant reader. The book is unusual in that all the characters are people of color—not only African American hues, but other colors as well. Four modern orphans find themselves escorted through a gate into another dimension where they come to take over the roles of their mother and her three siblings as protectors and problem solvers for different people in conflict with an evil wizard. Unique among other fantasy adventure books, they discover only non-violent solutions to the impinging threats.


The author shows the four children, along with their very intelligent parrot, growing and developing into their legacy—becoming what they are intended to become—The Four. We ranked this excellent book five hearts.



The Call to Shakabaz is a children’s book that is important for everyone to know about. I suggest you buy it and read it together with the whole family.” – Bev Smith, nationally syndicated talk radio host


“This is a book about finding personal strength, in all different forms, and appreciating the talents of others, and the strength in uniting different people, and so much more! I want to buy a copy for everyone I know, regardless of age, race, or sex. It’s part fantasy, part history lesson, part real life—I can’t even describe it!” — Carrie Spellman, Teens Read Too

“This midgrade fantasy is perfect for a young reluctant reader. We ranked this excellent book five hearts.” — Bob Spear, Heartland Reviews


“First and foremost, The Call to Shakabaz is a highly readable, entertaining fantasy that anyone can enjoy. But beyond that, it fills some important holes in fantasy literature. The four children are African-American and many aspects of African-American culture are integrated into the story. It’s about time that a good fantasy came along featuring characters that African-American children can identify with.” — Sheila Ruth, Wands and Worlds


“When I was a child, no one ever wrote about Black children. We were still calling each other whenever a Black person was coming on TV, ‘Nat King Cole gonna be on TV tonight’. Now, 53 and grandmother to a host of children, to them I can read a tale about Black girls and boys who have adventures, rise above their fears, and so help me God, save the whole wide world! I had to wait 53 years before a Black girl could ride the white horse.” – Jessica Nelson, English teacher, University of San Francisco


“Highly recommended.” — James Cox, editor-in-chief, The Midwest Book Review


“Do you want to read a good adventure book with a great storyline and no violence? If you do, you will want to check out this one. Amy Wachspress has a great imagination. I will definitely read this book again!” — Brianne Plach (age 9) for Readers Views

“This book is a terrific fantasy book for kids. With the popularity of the Narnia series, The Call to Shakabaz could easily become a favorite for students and teachers. It kept Brianne very enthused about reading.” – Brianne’s mother for Readers Views


“At the Mendocino Book Company reading [of The Call to Shakabaz], my 9-year-old sat captivated as Wachspress read several excerpts. She broke her concentration long enough to lean over to me and whisper ‘Can we get this book?’ – a resounding endorsement for this new work by Amy Wachspress.” – Dot Brovarney, coordinator, Mendocino LitFest


“The climax of The Call to Shakabaz was especially thrilling. We [Mark and Andrea Blevis and their two daughters] had the absolute time of our life—laughing, crying, glowing and agonizing—during the march on Sissrath. What a wild and wonderful ride!!! We will be giving Shakabaz as gifts this year and we will continue to shout its praises wherever we go. — Andrea Blevis, Just One More Book (podcasts about children’s books), Ontario, Canada

“I missed my bus stop by eight stops because I was so engrossed in reading The Call to Shakabaz.” – Stephanie Vela, children’s books manager, Black Oak Books

“This is a children’s book in the tradition of The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter.” – Tom Elliott, book review editor, Mensa Bulletin


“I felt like I was right there sharing the adventure. You will love this book.” – Gabriela Kong, age 14

“My son who just turned 13 is not a reader but he may be one now. I have never seen him as absorbed in a book as The Call to Shakabaz, which he devoured. He sat for hours reading it and says he is ready for the sequel.” – Amy Foster, parent (Amazon reviewer)

“I was just going to quickly review this book for my grandchildren – instead I got hooked! A well-written fantasy, with stress on positive values, and a plot with enough twists and turns to keep you interested.” – Eleanor Cohen, grandmother (Amazon reviewer)

The Call to Shakabaz is full of action and surprises. If you haven’t read the book yet get a copy!!!!” – Nico Correia, age 12 (Amazon reviewer)

“We just finished reading your novel yesterday and it was a big hit with the students. It strikes me as a Lord of the Rings meets The Fifth Sacred Thing and I enjoyed it as well. My students are thinking that you should be working on the sequel.” – Timothy McEnry, teacher, Spy Rock Elementary School

“I just started reading The Call to Shakabaz and I am loving it! I wish I could stay home and read.” – Rani Saijo, owner, Leaves of Grass Books


“The vocabulary goofs of Hyacinth in The Call to Shakabaz are some of the best comic relief I’ve ever come across.” – Dr. Steven Wirth, physician, family practice

The Call to Shakabaz is so full of invention and shareable feelings. It’s like an African American Narnia. The characters are really believable. I’ve ordered an extra copy for the Family Learning Institute and one for my sister, who has four grandchildren.” – Dr. James McIntosh, Ph.D., retired English professor, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor


“How refreshing to read an adventure tale that does not depend on clichéd British medieval imagery!” – Eris Weaver, librarian (Amazon reviewer)


v  One of the top 10 children’s books sold in spring 2007 by Black Oak Books, Berkeley, California

v  Recommended in Marching Orders, the newsletter for the Million Mom March

v  Recommended by online reviewers Book Pleasures, Book Loons, The Taz, and more

v  Recommended by Johanna Cummings, Wild Oak Living, KZYX radio

v  Recommended by Bev Smith of The Bev Smith Show, nationally syndicated

v  Recommended by Just One More Book!

v  Winner of multiple national and regional awards and honors

v  Featured at Mendocino LitFest, The Solar Living Institute’s Annual SolFest, Sonoma County Book Festival, and Today’s Author Blog

Recommended in Marching Orders

Recommended in the March 23, 2007 issue of Marching Orders, the newsletter for the Million Mom March. Paul Marchione writes:

Amy Wachspress has authored The Call to Shakabaz, a children’s fantasy adventure of a different color that at its core has a message of nonviolence. The book is full of culturally diverse characters and it does not rely on gory violent battle scene to resolve the central conflict. Instead, the book demonstrates the fundamental principles of nonviolence as practiced by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. The book offers a refreshingly different perspective on adventuring in make-believe lands and challenges young readers (grades 4-9) to reconsider the nature of violence and how we resolve conflict.