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Lalani of the Distant Sea

Written by Erin Entrada Kelly

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Lalani of the Distant Sea Review

Adventure Stories Family / Home Stories Featured Books for 11+ readers Featured Books for 9+ readers Traditional Tales

A truly other-worldly spellbinding adventure from an acclaimed award-winning writer

The latest novel from Newbery medal winning novelist Kelly is inspired by Filipino folktales but is set upon the entirely fictional island of Sangalita where people live under foreboding Mount Kahna and the strict control of the all-powerful menyoro. Generations of men, including twelve-year-old Lalani Sarita’s father, have tried to sail across the Veiled Sea to reach the legendary paradise of Mount Isa but none have returned. Lalani is just an ordinary girl who is desperate to help the drought-stricken islanders. When she ventures up the forbidden mountain to pray for rain, she discovers the pitfalls of magic and trickery of magical creatures and the deluge which follows causes a terrible landslide. Blaming herself for the death and destruction and seeking a remedy for her fatally ill mother she feels that she has no choice but to set off for Mount Isa to seek the flower that could save everyone. Her epic journey is full of danger and mystery, but it is her pure motives and the faith and hope that she carries that just might see her through.

Although Lalani is the worthy 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 as characters deal with bullying, abuse of power, and other problems which are clearly relevant to the  real world too. The story is skilfully constructed with short, beautifully illustrated vignettes allowing readers into the minds of the mythical creatures Lalani encounters, adding yet another layer of depth and fantasy to this triumphant tale about fighting for the people one loves and staying true to oneself.

Joy Court

Other Info

If interested in the Filipino mythology and inspiration to the world created here the teacher guide on the author’s website is well worth a look:

Lalani of the Distant Sea Synopsis

When Lalani Sarita's mother falls ill with an incurable disease, Lalani embarks on a dangerous journey across the sea . . . Life is hard on the island of Sanlagita. To the west looms a vengeful mountain, one that threatens to collapse and bury the village at any moment. To the north, a dangerous fog swallows sailors who dare to venture out, looking for a more hospitable land. The women live in fear of the deadly mender's disease, spread by the sharp needles they use to repair the men's fishing nets. When Lalani Sarita's mother pricks her finger and falls ill, she gives twelve-year-old Lalani an impossible task - leave Sanlagita and find the riches of the legendary Mount Isa, which towers on an island to the north. But generations of men and boys have died on the same quest. How can a timid young girl survive the epic tests of the archipelago?

Lalani of the Distant Sea Press Reviews

A lush and mysterious fable, full of beauty, full of wonder. -- -Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me

With lyricism and elegance, Erin Entrada Kelly weaves a rich tale. Powerful and gripping. -- Soman Chainani, author of The School for Good and Evil series

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. -- Publishers Weekly

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781848129153
Publication date: 16/01/2020
Publisher: Piccadilly Press an imprint of Templar Publishing
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781848129153
Publication date: 16th January 2020
Author: Erin Entrada Kelly
Publisher: Piccadilly Press an imprint of Templar Publishing
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 416 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 9+ readers
Genres: Adventure Stories, Family / Home Stories, Traditional Tales

About Erin Entrada Kelly

Erin Entrada Kelly is a Filipino-American writer of children's books. Her work has been translated into several languages and she is a New York Times bestseller. She received the 2018 Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe. Netflix is currently in the process of adapting Hello, Universe into a feature film.

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