Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly
Have you read Erin Entrada Kelly’s debut fantasy? If the answer is no, do yourself a favor and read it. Kelly’s novel is inspired by Filipino folklore that resonates as a memorable coming-of-age story about loyalty, friendship, individuality, beauty, and heroism of twelve-year-old Lalani Sarita’s mother falls ill with an incurable illness, Lalani begins on a dangerous trek across the sea in the hope of safeguarding her own future.
And once we are along for the ride with Lalani. From there, a desiccation engulfs Sanlagita; there is a level of endurance from the villagers to make the most out of what remains in their community.
This novel is filled to the brim with emotion and adventure that, at times, could be a scary version of a Grimms’ fairy tale. Kelly delivers a story that will linger with readers until the very end. It is rich with descriptions that are vivid and surreal. Lalani is a strong character, and there were times where my heart was in my throat from not knowing if Lalani was going to die. Eventually, Lalani finds the honesty behind the darkness covering this surreptitious Mount Isa. Refusing to give up is a message that lingers throughout this book. If you were captivated by The Girl Who Drank the Moon and Jumbies, you will enjoy this book because it has all of the ingredients of an appropriate take on Filipino folklore that is universal for readers to make this a future classic.
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About Annisha Jeffries
Annisha Jeffries is the head of the youth services department at Cleveland Public Library. She was a member of the 2007 ALSC Board and served on several selection committees, including the 2018 Caldecott Committee. A 2000-2001 Spectrum Scholarship recipient, Jeffries is currently the Chair of the Norman A, Sugarman Children's Biography Award. She can be reached at email@example.com
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