Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
A fantasy inspired by Filipino folklore, this vibrant story by Newbery Medalist Entrada (Hello, Universe) follows Lalani Sarita, 12, on her harrowing quest to save her mother and her island, Sanlagita, from the horrible fates for which they seem destined. When Lalani's father perished after being selected to sail to Mount Isa, "where all of life's good fortunes were said to be," Lalani and her mother were forced to live with her frightening uncle and his cruel son. Now, with her mother ill and her island suffering from a drought that has killed off medicinal plants, Lalani faces an impossible quest: sailing across the sea that has taken the lives of countless men, including her father, in search of something that might heal her mother and reveal what's really beyond their small island home. Entrada intersperses second-person narratives that describe the mountain's many fantastical creatures ("Imagine you are a weeping loset"), weaving adventure and magic into the story. Unlikely but determined heroine Lalani is lovably loyal, kind-hearted, and optimistic even as she faces unspeakable dangers, and her relentless spirit makes her a worthy protagonist in this triumphant tale about fighting for the people one loves and staying true to oneself. Ages 8-12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 5--8--Lalani Sarita must leave her home on Sanlagita Island in search of solutions to the struggles of her family and friends. After her mother falls ill and a devastating landslide wreaks havoc that leaves the island leaderless, Lalani feels responsible as she's the one who approached their cursed mountain and wished for rain. She sets out to find the island of Isa, which legend says will provide the help Sanlagita so desperately needs. But dozens of sailors have been sent to find Isa previously and never returned. After Lalani leaves, her friend Veyda and her brother Hetsbi, and the other islanders struggle to survive. Lalani has no idea the dangers she is up against just trying to cross the Veiled Sea, let alone what faces her should she reach Isa. But she's determined to find help for her loved ones and make up for her mistakes--and her pure motives may just be enough to carry her through. Kelly's beautifully rendered novel leaves readers with much to ponder. The tale has themes of good and evil, hope and despair, and finding the courage to bring change to old traditions. Lalani's story is intertwined with the tales of those around her, human and creature alike. All of these eventually culminate into a journey illustrating the importance of story and the power of faith and hope. VERDICT A first purchase where books such as Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moon are popular.--Heidi Grange, Summit Elementary School, Smithfield, UT
On the island of Sanlagita, the strongest men have always sailed north in search of fabled Mount Isa. It is said that there are riches at Isa's peak, chief among them a yellow flower that can cure disease. All her life, 12-year-old Lalani has watched the sailors leave including her own father only for them never to return. When Sanlagita is beset by calamities first a drought, then torrential rains, and finally illness befalling Lalani's mother Lalani finds inspiration in the tales of Ziva, the precocious girl who long ago dared to stow away on a ship bound for Isa. Stealing a boat, Lalani sets sail hoping against hope that the smallest and least imposing of Sanlagita's sailors can be the greatest of all. Inspired by Filipino folklore, Newbery Award winner Kelly has woven her narrative with a mythology that is rich and delicious; it is also one fraught with peril. As Lalani journeys closer to Isa, she encounters the lethal flora and fauna that have bested the sailors who came before her. In true storytelling fashion, each of these creatures is given its own story and history, bringing the entire tale to life. By the end, readers will be cheering for Lalani in her unlikely quest to save her family and friends, using only the power of her wits, courage, and empathy.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Kelly's first novel since her best-selling, Newbery Award-winning Hello, Universe (2017) will make quite a splash with her many fans and possibly hook devotees of Disney's Moana.--Reinhardt Suarez Copyright 2019 Booklist
Horn Book Review
Kelly turns from the contemporary realistic settings of the Newbery-winning Hello, Universe (rev. 3/17) and of You Go First (rev. 3/18) to a tropical island-set fantasy world. Lalani lives on Sanlagita, an isolated island where gender roles are strictly defined; life is under the control of an all-powerful menyoro; and sailors hold the most esteemed positions in the village's caste system, though tragically they leave in search of new lands and never return. When Lalani finds a foreign creature living on the island's sacred mountain, she sets in motion a challenge to the menyoro's authority, beginning with her departure from home. Over the course of her voyage, she encounters supernatural creatures, both allies and enemies, and brings about major changes to her world. Although Lalani is the protagonist, a strong cast of secondary characters, particularly her best friend Veyda and Veyda's brother Hetsbi, are crucial to the story, making the novel more complex than a tale of an individual's rebellion. Kelly does an excellent job of world-building, with folklore-like chapters interspersed throughout the story that both introduce the supernatural elements ("Imagine you're an exquisite eel...You are Ditasa-Ulod. The water is your kingdom") and build the book's themes. The narrative voice keeps the tale firmly in its environment of magic and legends, maintaining the atmosphere of otherworldliness even as characters deal with bullying, abuse of power, and other problems with clear resonance in the real world. Sarah Rettger November/December 2019 p.88(c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
A young girl goes on an epic journey across the sea.Twelve-year-old Lalani Sarita lives on the fictional island of Sanlagita, where people say benedictions to the foreboding Mount Kahna and dream of sailing to paradise on Mount Isa. But sailors who journey to Isa never return. When a strange creature on Mount Kahna grants Lalani a wish, she discovers magic comes with a price. After her mother falls ill, the villagers turn on her, and with everything in ruins, she runs away in search of Isa and the flower that might save everyone. Along the way, she encounters creatures and plants, some friendly and some deadly. Lalani must overcome many hardships and challenges to create her own path. Inspired by Filipino folktales, Newbery Medalist Kelly (Hello, Universe, 2017) writes a heroic fantasy about making choices, going on a quest, and conquering evil. Though the tale is told primarily in the third person, characters develop deeply through revealed thoughts and actions. Each character adds another layer to the story, all facing their own issues, such as finding courage, patriarchy, and gender roles. Scattered throughout the novel are short, beautifully illustrated second-person vignettes allowing readers to imagine they are the mythical creatures Lalani encounters, adding yet another layer of depth and fantasy to the story.Fast-paced and full of wonder, this is a powerful, gripping must-read. (Fantasy. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.