Lalani of the Distant Sea

by Erin Entrada Kelly

Lalani’s island of Sanlagita is struggling with drought and sickness. Every... read more

Lalani’s island of Sanlagita is struggling with drought and sickness. Every generation sends out a boat with sailors charged with looking for Isa, a magical isle of light and good fortune; none of them, including Lalani’s father, have ever returned. Boys on the island are educated, taught to build, while women and girls—even girls like Lalani’s best friend Veyda, gifted at healing arts— are relegated to menial labor and servitude. When Lalani’s encounter with the monster of Mount Kahna on her island brings even worse misfortunes to her people, she’s determined to succeed where generations of men have failed and sets out in a boat in search of Isa. Interspersed throughout this tale of Lalani, her friends, and family are second-person stories describing the various beings and beasts she encounters on her journey. The interconnectedness of these narratives, not wholly obvious at first, is one of many satisfying revelations. Big ideas are woven throughout this unusual, beautifully written novel featuring compelling characters, an intricate plot, and slowly building tension. At its heart is Lalani a girl of compassion, goodness, and courage in spite of her fear: a hero for every child in this fantasy inspired by Filipino folk tales. (Ages 8–12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

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